What is Ego? Do Spiritual people have ego?

Question 1: Everyone in spiritual life talks about ego, and that it is the greatest impediment when it comes to attaining God. What, actually, is ego? How does it cause trouble to us?

Answer 1: “Ego… is the self-asserting principle…born of ignorance…It is the ego which has created the idea of separateness from God or the Atman, It is the ego which is the ROOT CAUSE of ALL human sufferings and births and deaths.” (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 2: How do we know whether we have ego? Or, whether we are acting out of egoistic tendencies? Are there are definite signs of the existence of ego?

Answer 2: “…ego identifies itself with the body, mind, prana, and the senses. Wherever there IS ego, there are mine-ness, SELFISHNESS, LIKES and DISLIKES, LUST, ANGER, greed, HYPOCRISY, PRIDE, JEALOUSY, delusion, arrogance, conceit, impertinence, vasanas (=tendencies), trishnas (=cravings)…”   (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 3: How do we get rid of this ego that causes so much trouble?

Answer 3: “…destrouction of thought, DESIRES, cravings, mineness, selfishness, JEALOUSY, PRIDE, LUST is really destruction of mind or egoism. Control of SENSES also is annihilation of the mind or egoism.” ( (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 4: Do people who are in spiritual life or who practise religions have ego?

Answer 4: “This egoism assumes a subtle form. The gross egoism is NOT so dangerous as the subtle egoism.”  (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 5: I have known people who claim that their religion is the truest and the rest are bogus, or they claim that their group, congregation, church, mosque or temple is genuine and the others, although they may belong to the same religion, do not belong to the true path of and to God. Are they actually working under the influence of ego?

Answer 5: “..Institutional egoism is a subtle form of egoism. The man identifies himself with the institution and gets ATTACHED to the institution or cult. He has no broadmindedness or catholicity.”  (pgs. 44-45, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 6: How to easily detect ego as it is so subtle and abstruse?

Answer 6: “The working of egoism is very mysterious. It is VERY difficult to detect its various ways of working. It NEEDS a SUBTLE and SHARP intellect to find out its operation. If you practise INTROSPECTION DAILY in silence, you WILL be able to find out its mysterious ways of working.”  (pg. 44, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 7: In your answer to Question 2 you said if we identify ourselves with the body, mind, senses, etc., it is an indication that we have that lurking ego in us. If this is so, what about our feelings regarding foreigners, strangers and people who do not belong to our society, culture, etc. Is that feeling of seeing the difference between us and others in terms of nationality, attainment, class, status, etc., the work of ego too?

Answer 7: “The seed of this ego is the differentiating intellect or Bheda Buddhi… This ego likes his own birth, place, and district, people of his district, own mother tongue, his own relations, and friends, his own ways of eating, mode of dressing. He has his own predilection and preferences, He dislikes others’ ways of eating, dressing, etc. (pgs. 44, 45 Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda).

Question 8: You see, I have spiritual friends—great spiritual friends, who are excellent advisers, guide and counsels. They have the little tendencies that you have described. Does it mean they too have the ego?

Answer 8: “It is the ego which has created the idea of separateness from God or the Atman… This ego wants to exercise POWER and INFLUENCE over others. He wants TITLES, prestige, STATUS, RESPECT, prosperity, house, wife, children. He wishes to domineer and rule over others. If anybody points out his defect his vanity feels offended. If anyone praises him he is elated. This ego says, ‘I know everything. He does not know anything. What I say is quite correct. What he says is quite incorrect. He is inferior to me. I am superior to him.’ He forces others to follow his ways and views.”  (pgs. 44, 45 Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda)

Question 9: It, indeed, is subtle and dangerous. But how to destroy it?

Answer 9: “This ego lurks like a thief when you start introspection and self-analysis. It will ELUDE your grasp and understanding. You must be alert and vigilant. If you obtain the GRACE of the Lord through JAPA, kirtan, prayer and DEVOTION, you CAN EASILY kill this ego.”  (pg. 46, Jnana Yoga by Swami Sivananda) 

Spiritual Groups

A spiritual group needs the inspiration of a living person. Mere rules and printed instructions are no substitutes for it. Without such inspiration, no matter how inspired a group was at its inception, time will draw it down into a mire of mediocrity. The real strength of every group is power emanating from its source. In the case of Christianity, that power derives ultimately from Jesus Christ. It also depends on people’s devotional attunement with him. Finally, however, it depends on the living presence of at least one inspired individual. This person need not be the leader. Even the cook, or the gardener, if he or she is filled with love for God, can function as the actual inspiration for an entire community.

The living memory only of a saint can help to keep devotion alive through those disciples for whom that memory is still fresh. If the disciples themselves lose the immediacy of that memory, however, and assuming no one is left to carry forward the baton of inspiration, the group’s devotion will wither in time like a plant without water.

That religious institutions should contain members of the “scribe and Pharisee” type is inevitable. Most people are satisfied with relative goodness, for their own aspiration soars no higher than the attainment after death of an existence in surroundings of astral beauty. Religious institutionalism is better, certainly, than blatant materialism. A problem religious institutions face, however, is the general tendency of every living thing toward either self-expansion or contraction. It is usually easier to maintain the spirituality of a small group than of a large one, provided that the group has someone of genuine charisma to inspire it. St. Teresa of Avila sought to combat spiritual mediocrity in her monasteries by limiting the number of their residents to eighteen.

As spiritual groups increase in size, they become not only organized, but institutionalized. Their leaders often reason that, since God is the Supreme Good, any increase in membership will benefit humanity itself. Once proselytizing zeal sets in like concrete, it is easy for one to be diverted from his spiritual goals. Mass conversion becomes a general ambition, and fervor for inner communion with God becomes increasingly viewed as, at best, a threat to group spirit.

To inspire thousands is no doubt better than to inspire only a handful, provided those thousands truly are inspired. The sheer effort involved in reaching them, however, cannot but affect one’s own devotion. The attempt to satisfy mass expectations is one way of diluting high aspiration. In the very effort to transform those expectations into love for God, one’s own devotion becomes compromised. The point is finally reached where worldly alternatives—the sale of “indulgences” in Martin Luther’s day; the emotional rallies and “revivals” in our own—become acceptable as a proper means of attracting people to their “higher good.”

Treading at first softly, then arrogantly, on the heels of such compromise comes the desire for worldly power, money, and fame. Justification for these ambitions is sought in the claim that power makes it possible to be more influential for good; that money makes it easier to achieve that end; and that fame can focus people’s enthusiasm and make it possible to draw them to God.

Many religious leaders find this reasoning persuasive, indeed irresistible. Unfortunately, compromise always ends up compromising the compromisers. Power, money, and fame are snares set for the unwary by Delusion. No matter how cleverly one rationalizes these roundabout means to spiritual ends, they become ends, at last, in themselves. A zealous servant of God may feel that he is working for the Lord, but if his activities inspire no devotion in his own heart, how can they inspire it in the hearts of others? If once he recognizes his spiritual dryness, he should ask himself, “What am I really accomplishing?”

Often, even a service that began in a spirit of deep sincerity develops gradually into a tendency—reluctant at first, then accepted with a shrug as a regrettable necessity—to lie, cheat, and treat with ruthless indifference the needs of other people, whose well-being is perceived as being secondary in importance to the greater good. Resignation gradually develops toward destroying people’s reputations for the sake of that “greater good.” In extreme cases, even murder is countenanced—again, always, for the “greater good.” In time, it becomes glaringly evident that the person they serve is not God, but the one we’ll call “that other fellow.”

(pgs. 267-269, The Promise of Immortality by Swami Kriyananda)

What Is Maya? by Swami Sivananda

Maya is the illusory inscrutable power of Ishvara. Just as heat is inseparable from fire, so also Maya is inseparable from Ishvara. Maya is Ishvara’s Upadhi. Ishvara has Maya under his control. Maya is neither Sat nor Asat. So Maya is Anirvachaniya. This universe is all a display of Maya. All worldly experience is the effect of Maya. A sage who has realised his Self has transcended Maya.

Maya is Abhinna Sakti of Brahman. Abhinna means inseparable. Maya cannot be separated from Brahman. Just as heat is inseparable from fire, so also Maya is inseparable from Brahman.

You conclude by looking at the effect pot that there should be the cause for this pot. Even so, you will have to conclude by looking at the world that there should be a cause for this world. That cause is Maya, the illusory power of Brahman.

What is beyond explanation, what is incapable of being explained by its very nature is Maya. Maya is Anirvachaniya i.e., indescribable. It is an inscrutable illusory power of Brahman through which this world is projected.

Maya is cunning and deceptive. She is the illusory power of Ishvara. It is the finitising principle that creates finite forms in Infinite Brahman. She has got 2 powers, Avarna Sakti and Vikshepa Sakti. She hides the Truth through Avarana Sakti (veiling power). She projects this universe, creates false names and forms through Vikshepa Sakti (projecting power).

Avarana Sakti conceals the Atman and veils the Jiva. Through the force of this Sakti, he is not able to separate himself from the five sheaths. This Avarana Sakti is divided into Asat Avarana and Abhana Avarana. The former is the cause for the notion that there is no Brahman. People say: “If there is Brahman, will it not shine?” This idea is generated by Abhana Avarana. Asat Avarana is removed by indirect knowledge of Brahman, Paroksha Jnana, obtained through Sravana or hearing of the Srutis. Abhana Avarana is destroyed by direct knowledge of Brahman through meditation (Aparoksha Jnana).

Avyaktam, Maya, Mula-Prakriti, Pradhana (the chief or first), Gunasamya are synonymous terms. Avyaktam is the unmanifested state of Maya. Just as the tree exists in the seed in a subtle state, so also this world exists in a seed state in Avyaktam during Pralaya. Avyaktam and Pradhana are terms of the Sankhya philosophy. Mula Prakriti is a compound of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas like a three-stranded rope of white, red and black colours. In the Gunasamya Avastha or state, the three Gunas are in a state of equilibrium. This is the state of Pralaya or Sushupti. Just as men go everyday into the state of deep sleep, so also the world goes into its Sushupti state during Pralaya. In Pralaya countless Jivas get absorbed in Mula Prakriti with Samskaras like particles of gold that adhere to a ball of wax. The Karmas of the Jivas ripen at the end of Pralaya. Ishvara has to give the fruits of their Karmas. So He again projects this universe by mere willing.

There is excess of pure Sattva in Maya. The reflection of Para Brahman in Maya is Ishvara. Maya is the Upadhi of Ishvara. It is the causal body of Ishvara. Ishvara has the Maya under his control. Ishvara is also called by the names of Avyakrita and Antaryamin. Ishvara is the instrumental cause of the universe (Nimitta Karana). He becomes the material cause by commingling Himself with the Tamas, just as the spider produces the web out of itself. Avidya is impure Sattva. More Rajas is mixed with Sattva. This is the causal body of the Jiva. This is the Anandamaya Kosha. Jiva and Ishvara experience the Sushupti or deep sleep state through this Karana Sarira or causal body. This is the causal evolution.

In Junagad State a very strange incident happened quite recently. A girl was married in her twelfth year. Six years after her marriage she suddenly was metamorphosed into a male. She had all the distinguishing marks of a male. She left her husband’s house and came back to her (rather his) father’s house. Her father is a rich man. He died recently. Lawyers are consulted now whether the property should go to her (him) or not. Maya can do anything. Maya can create eunuchs, hermaphrodities of both (sexes), melodious feminine voice in males, harsh masculine voice in females, beard and moustaches in ladies, clean feminine face in males, beings with faces in their stomachs, hoofs in their heads, beings half-human, half-lions, half-horses. From this you can clearly infer that this world is quite illusory and unreal and Atman alone is real and everlasting. A close study of Nature will induce Vairagya and Viveka and inspiration for realising Atman, the Lord of Nature.

Even if the sun becomes cool and the moon hot, even if the fire burns downwards and ice becomes hot, even if the faecal matter emanates the scent of Otto de Rose, a Jnani never gets astonished. He knows that this is all the fantastic work of Maya.
Unlike Maya, which is subject to change, transforming itself into universe, Brahman never changes. He is quite immutable, great and firm and unborn.
Because you cannot see the fire as it is covered by the ash, you cannot say that there is no fire. Even so, you cannot say that there is no Atman because it is concealed by body, mind, Prana and the senses.

The connection of the Self with the Buddhi, its limiting adjunct, is due to Avidya or ignorance or wrong knowledge. This wrong knowledge can vanish only by Brahma Jnana. As long as one does get knowledge of Brahma Jnana, so long the connection of the soul with the Buddhi, body and the Indriyas will not come to an end.

Avidya is of two kinds, viz., Mula Avidya (primitive ignorance) which constitutes the causal body (Karana Sarira) or seed-body of the Jiva (individual soul) and Sthula Avidya which envelops the objects outside.

Avidya is the root cause for the Samsara. Eradication of ignorance, eradicates pain and enables a man to free himself from the round of births and deaths. The Vedanta Philosophy does not enquire into the why and how, origin and nature of Avidya. It simply teaches us that it exists and that it is destroyed by knowledge of Brahman.

Just as the fire is covered with ash, so also this pure Immortal self-luminous Atman is covered by Avidya and its effects, viz., mind, egoism, selfishness, hatred, body, Prana and the senses. When the ash is removed, the fire burns brilliantly. Even so, when Avidya is removed through knowledge of the Self, the self-resplendent Atman shines by itself.

From illusion springs separation, difference, duality, manifoldness and variety. Illusion is born of ignorance. All sorrows, tribulations, miseries, troubles have their root in ignorance. Ignorance creates illusion and separateness. Therefore destroy the ignorance by the sword of knowledge of the Self and become free.

Sense of separateness is a great fetter. Kill this sense of separateness by Brahma Bhavana or developing Advaita unity or consciousness and selfless service. The sense of separateness is an illusion created by ignorance or Maya.

If you remove the scabbard, you can behold the sword; if you remove the ashes you can perceive the fire; if the clouds are dispersed, you can cognise the sun; if you remove the bed sheet, you can see the mattress. Even so if you remove the ignorance which hides the Atman, you can directly behold the self-luminous Atman.

Just as the mirror is rendered dim by a layer of dirt attaching to it, so also knowledge is veiled by Avidya. Therefore all people are deluded. They cling to this unreal and mistake the body for the pure Atman. They think that this illusory world of names and forms is quite real.


(Cause for all the Miseries)

Srishti is of two kinds, viz., Jiva Srishti and Ishvara Srishti. There is no pain in Ishvara Srishti. Water quenches thirst. Fire gives warmth. Fresh breeze invigorates. Trees give shade. Cows give good milk. ‘Mamata-mineness’, my wife, my son, etc., are Jiva Srishti. This gives pain. When you hear: ‘Horse is dead’, you are not affected. When you hear ‘My horse is dead’ at once you begin to feel. The root of human sufferings is ‘Mamata’. Destroy this Mamata and rest in Atmic Bliss.
It is impossible for a man who has intense Deha Abhimana (attachment for the body) to attain Atma Jnana, or realise oneness of life and oneness of consciousness.

How infinitely you are busy with your body and its conceits. “I, I, I, I am a doctor; I am an Englishman; I am an American; I am a Brahmin; I know everything; I am clever; I am very intelligent; I am very strong; I am the doer; I am the actor; I have done much charity; I have built a hospital in my father’s name.” There is no end for this ‘I’. As soon as this identification with this perishable, impure body ceases, as soon as you realise that you are not this body, that ‘this body is not I’, that you are the Immortal all-pervading Self, all sorrows depart, all difficulties vanish, you are saved from this terrible Samsara. You will reach the abode of bliss and nectar and inexhaustible spiritual wealth, the city of deathlessness and drink the cup of immortality.

Fifty bombs can destroy a big city. But even five thousand bombs cannot destroy this egoism. So hard is egoism. The ignorant Jiva has hardened the egoism through too much thinking of his personality and too much vanity. Even granite or diamond may melt at some time or other but it is very difficult to annihilate this egoism, though it is nothing in essence. A Bhakta or devotee destroys the egoism through self-surrender. A sage annihilates it through self-denial and Atmic enquiry or enquiry of ‘who am I?’

Sivaji engaged thousands of coolies to build a fort. He had the Abhimana that he was feeding all these persons. Sivaji’s Guru, Swami Ramdas, understood this. He called Sivaji and asked him to break a big stone that was lying in front of his palace. Sivaji ordered a servant to do the work. When the stone was broken a frog that was inside jumped outside. Ramdas asked: “O Sivaji, who has arranged food for this little frog that was inside this stone?” Sivaji felt ashamed, prostrated before Ramdasji and said: “O Guru Maharaj, thou art Antaryami. Thou hast understood my Abhimana, when I thought that these coolies are fed by me. Now Viveka has dawned in me. Protect me, O Lord, I am thy disciple.”

Monkeys have got great Moha for their children. They carry the dead monkey, skeleton of their children even for a month. Moha is attachment to the physical body. These Samskaras are carried from animal kingdom to human kingdom. That is the reason why a man or woman entertains great Moha for the son.

You are born alone. You will die alone. You cross alone the different ties you meet with. You encounter alone whatever misery falls to your lot. Why do you then cherish Moha (infatuated love) for your children, wife, etc., false productions of Moha? Wake up. Beware.

You are born to conquer nature and thereby realise Atman.

Try to know the ways and habits of this Ahankara. It thirsts for self-aggrandisement or self-advancement, power, possession of objects and enjoyment. Kill this Ahankara or egoism and selfishness. Be disinterested. Pin your faith to the opposite virtues, spirit of sacrifice and selflessness. Accept sacrifice and service as guiding principles of life. At once you will have a rich, expanded spiritual life.

Do not identify yourself with body, wife, son, objects. Give up all ideas of possessions. Never call anything: ‘This is mine.’ Be established on the one idea: ‘Brahman alone shines and exists. I am Brahman.’ Become a Jivanmukta. Enjoy Advaitic, Brahmic Bliss, the final beatitude.

If the pot which is placed in a dark room and which contains a lamp inside is broken, the darkness of the room is dispelled and you see light everywhere in the room. Even so if the body is broken through constant meditation on the Self, i.e., if you destroy Avidya and its effect viz., Deha Adhyasa or identification of the body and rise above body-consciousness, you will cognise the supreme Light of Atman everywhere.

There is no weapon sharper than Atmic Vichara to cut down the inveterate old enemy ‘Ahankara.’
Man lives in flesh. He eats flesh. He embraces flesh. Flesh is Ahankara. Flesh is world. Maya plays through flesh. Mother Kaali does not want offerings of flesh. She wants offering of Ahankara. Foolish people kill goats to please their tongue under the pretext of an offering to Mother Kaali. Horrible unpardonable crime and heinous sin indeed!
The snake-charmer extracts the two poisonous fangs of the cobra and then plays with it without any fear. The cobra now also raises its hood and hisses, but the snake-charmer knows that it cannot do any harm to him. Even so if you extract the two poisonous teeth viz., Ahamta and Mamata, you can move about fearlessly in this world. You will become a Jivanmukta and rejoice in the Atman within.
He who commits suicide on account of troubles does an ‘unholy suicide’. He who kills egoism, selfishness, Vasanas, Indriyas, thoughts, etc., commits ‘holy suicide’.
What is the use of wearing ordinary cow-dung ashes on the forehead? Burn the Ahankara and wear the ash formed out of destruction of this Ahankara on the forehead and body.
Yashoda tried her level best to tie her baby Krishna with a piece of rope. She brought a rope to tie him. It was short by two inches. Again she brought a bigger rope. This was also short by two inches. She brought several ropes but at each time there was a shortage of two inches. What does this mean? Is there any philosophical significance? Yes, there is philosophy here. Yashoda was a little bit egoistic. She had a strong idea of mineness also. She was very much attached to her baby. Lord Krishna wanted to eradicate ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness’ from her mind. He indirectly taught to His mother: “O dear mother, give up I-ness and mine-ness. Then only you can bind Me by cord of pure Prema.”
If you kill the Queen Bee, the other bees which are collecting the nectar from the flowers in a place which is at a distance of five miles from the Queen bee also die at once. Similar is the case with the white ants also. If one man in the primitive African tribe suffers from any acute pain, the whole group of people who live at a distance of one hundred miles get the pain. The above cases are recorded after definite observation by psychologists in the West. There is intense instinctive feeling amongst the primitive tribes. That is the reason why if one is affected the whole group of people are affected. This goes to prove that there is one universal consciousness and that you can become one with the cosmic consciousness by melting your egoism or self-asserting principle and thereby can obtain the highest divine knowledge. 
(pg. 211-217, Self-Knowledge)

Swami Sivananda on Atman

Feel You Are Atman


Do not act under the influence of sudden impulses. Do not be carried away by the force of emotions, however noble they may be. Be ever vigilant and diligent.
Avoid unnecessary worry. Be not troubled. Be not anxious. Do not be idle. Do not waste time. Do not worry yourself if there is delay in further progress. Wait coolly. You are bound to succeed.
Develop courage by constantly feeling you are Atman. Deny and negate the body idea. Practise, practise Nididhyasana always; all difficulties, tribulations will come to an end. You will enjoy unalloyed bliss. 

Live In Atman 


Wake up from the dream of forms. Do not be deceived by these illusory names and forms. Cling to the solid living reality only. Love your Atman alone. Atman only persists. Live in Atman. Become Brahman. This is real life.
Approach the sages, the doctors of divinity with faith, devotion and humility. Take a dose of medicine called Jnana. Then the disease of Ajnana will be eradicated completely. You will attain everlasting peace.
Do not be deluded by Maya. Be calm as the waveless ocean. Be broad-minded as the sky. Be pure as the crystal. Strive ceaselessly for the realisation of the Atman. Be patient as the earth. You are bound to succeed. You will succeed. Rest assured. 

Rejoice In Atman


Lead a life of intense activity. Keep always a calm mind. Mentally repeat your Ishta Mantra. Mix with all. Serve all with Atma Bhava. See God in them.
Do not be afraid of difficulties and failures in the spiritual path. Difficulties will develop your will-power. Failures are stepping stones to success. Use your intelligence, sagacity, discrimination and commonsense. You will overcome the difficulties one by one.
Stand adamant. Be cheerful. Dismiss fear and anxiety. March boldly in the spiritual path. Do not be discouraged. Draw courage, strength and power from within. Be cautious. Thou art Invincible. Nothing can harm you. Remain serene always. Smile and rejoice in the Atman. 

(pgs. 56-57, Light, Power & Wisdom)

We Should be a Model for Others by Mata Amirtanandamayi

This is the age in which there are speeches and discourses throughout the country. Spiritual discourses, cultural discourses, political speeches, religious talks, talks against religions—why, everybody has some subject or the other to speak on. Everyone has the authority to make speeches on everything under the sun—this seems to be the general attitude. As Mother syas this, an incident comes to my mind. A student tells his friend, “We have a great professor. You give him any subject, and he will talk on it for hours. Even if you give him a small topic, he will talk for more than five hours. Hearing this, another young person says, “Your professor speaks for only five hours when he is given a subject, right? But we have a neighbour. You don’t have to give him any subject; still, he will keep on talking—for days on end.”
…..In truth, what we need is not speeches, but action. We should show through our lives what we have to say…..An incident from the Mahabharata comes to mind.
It was the time when the pandavas and Kauravas were young and were being taught by their great guru, Dronacharya. The first lesson was on ‘Forbearance’. One day, the guru called all his disciples and asked them to recite what they had learnt. Each one of them recited the lessons from memory. Finally, it was Yudhishtira’s turn. He repeated just one line. When the guru asked, Is this all you have learnt?”. Yudhishtira replied with reluctance, “Pardon me Sir, I have more or less learnt just the first lesson; the second lesson I haven’t learnt even that much.” 
Dronacharya could not control his anger when he heard this, because he had expected more from  than all the others in the matter of studies….In his anger, Drona took a tick and beat Yudhishtira with it until the stick broke into small pieces. But even after receiving the blows, the cheerfulness and the smile on Yudhishtira’s face did not fade. Drona’s anger cooled when he saw this. He was sorry. He said affectionately, “My child, you are a prince. If you wanted, you could punish me by putting me in prison. But you didn’t do anything like that. You were not angry at all. Is there anyone in this world who has patience like you? There is such greatness in you!” 
When he turned around, Drona saw the palm leaf on which Yudhisthira’s lessons were written. The first line on it was, ‘Never lose patience!’ and the second line was, ‘Always tell only the truth’. When Drona’s glance fell on Yudhishtira’s face again, he thought those lines on the pal leaf were shining in the young prince’s eyes. 
As he took hold of Yudhistra’s hands, Drona’s eyes were brimming with tears. He said, “Yudhishtira! when I was teaching you, I was merely mouthing some words. The other boys were repeating them like parrots. Only you learnt them properly. how great you are, my son! In spite of teaching this for so long, I wasn’t able t olearn even a single line. I could not control my anger. I could not be patient.”
Hearing his guru saying this with eyes full of tears, Yudhishtira said, “Forgive me, master! I did feel a little anger towards you.” Drona now realised that his disciple had learnt the second lesson as well. Those who don’t fall when they hear a little praise are very rare. Even if they have a little anger in them, they will be reluctant to show it. but look at Yudhishtira. He didn’t show any relunctance to admit it. That means, he had learnt the second lesson also. A lesson is complete only when it is practised in life. The true disciple is one who tries to do that.
….Each word of ours should cause a transformation in the listeners. It should bring bliss to others. We should be a model for others. Each word we utter should have that power. For that, simplicity and humility should shine forth in our words. But today, if we sift through our words, we won’t find a trace of humility. What pervades all our words is the attitude, “I want to be higher than the other!” We don’t pay attention to the fact that person’s greatness actually resides in his humility. Even the lowliest person tries to pose as great in front of the others. But we don’t realise the fact that if we act like this, we just become fools in the eyes of others. 
Once an army major was promoted to the rank of colonel. On the say he assumed charge of the new post, a man came to visit him. As soon as the man entered, the colonel picked up the phone with an sir of importance and started talking, “Hello, is that President Clinton? how are you? I took charge just today. There are lots of files to go through. Ok, I will call you later. Please give my regards to your wife…” After talkikng this for a while, he put the phone down. All this while. the man, who ahd come in, had waited very courteously. The colonel asked him very seriously, “Yes, what do you want?”
The visitor said n all courteousness, “pardon me, I came to connect the phone. This is a new phone that was put in yesterday. The lone hasn’t been connected.” Who is the fool here? We don’t see that we become fools like this several times a day—that is all. One who tries to display one’s own importance in front of others actually becomes a fool in their eyes.
(pgs. 119-121 & 123-124, Lead us to the Light, Vol 2)

SADHAK! BEWARE! by Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji

A Sadhak who is involved in spiritual practice should never exhibit himself in any way till he enjoys total experience (‘poorana anubhava’). In worldly life, too, many a leader seeing what they deem as shortcomings in the society start an organization with rehabilitation (‘seer thiruttam’) in mind. They commence such movements without any self-interest, in all goodwill and with a sense of sacrifice (‘tyãga buddhi’). However, eventually caught in the net of fame, money and post they are found to move away from the set goal. Similar is the case of a sadhak. 
A sadhak involved in spiritual practice should, therefore, be careful till he attains his goal. A devotee who lived with Sri Maha Periyava, serving Him, used to say, ‘Even while walking, Maha Periyava used to take every single step very cautiously after much thought.’ Mistakes committed by an individual affect only him. Mistakes committed by the leaders of an organization affect the organization, all those who are connected with it, the movement and the objective of the organization. One should work with this awareness.
While driving on the road, accidents occur on account of two reasons. One is our carelessness. The other is the carelessness of others in spite of our cautious driving. Likewise, while involved in spiritual practice we might move away from our set goal due to our fault; or our association with some (person) might also remove us away from the set goal.
The wicked are not just those who gamble, drink alcohol or those involved in sinful acts. Anyone who is the cause of pulling us away from our objective is also the wicked. The reason is that human birth is rare indeed. Life term is also very short. So, one who wastes our time and troubles us is indeed the wicked.
We should always be very simple. Our mode of worship, sadhanas and related work should be very simple. In spiritual life we will come across different kinds of people:
a. One might be well learned in the Vedas,
b. while another might be a good orator. 
c. Yet another might be well versed in the Vedanta Shãstrãs. 
d. Some others might be very good at rendering bhajans melodiously. 
On seeing such people many Sadhaks might feel, ‘I must learn the Vedas; I must learn Shãstrãs.’ One may yearn at heart, ‘Oh! I am unable to sing so melodiously.’ Some might even begin to take lessons! We should understand one thing well. Mostly the above-mentioned persons will not be sadhaks. It may be their profession.
Bhagavãn will not appear simply because one has knowledge of these; it also does not mean that Bhagavãn will not appear to one who has no knowledge of these. Most of the Jnãnis have no knowledge on these subjects! Moreover, the many books and lectures would vehemently say that their ‘mãrga’ (path) is the only way to Moksha (Liberation). On (reading) listening to their words we would also feel that it is only their ‘mãrga’ that one should follow. We may feel dejected with our ‘mãrga’ or we might move away from our ‘mãrga’. We should move steadily in our own ‘mãrga’.
There is a big danger in all these. As we progress in our sadhana ‘divinity’ (‘deiviigam’) is reflected in our body, gait, voice etc. Therefore, those who come to meet us may feel attracted to us. In the world, just as on the one hand there are people who oppose anything so, too, on the other hand are those who lend support to everything. Such people would gradually begin to praise us. They would say, ‘until now I have not seen anyone as lustrous (‘tejas’) as you are’; ‘you appeared in my dream’; ‘you are only my Guru’; ‘You should give me ‘upadesa’ (initiation)!’ Gradually they would say, ‘You are a Mahatma.’ They might even say, ‘you are an Avatãra Purusha!’ Slowly they will make you a Guru!
Initially it may be a matter of joy. As time passes it would become a difficult task and at the same time a task impossible to shirk. Owing to this, desire for fame, money and other expectations would develop. Someone would invite us to his home and we would accept it. They would receive us with all pomp and show with ‘poorna kumba’.
We may at first feel, ‘why such ceremonial and pompous welcome?’ But, slowly our ‘buddhi’ changes. On going to another place on invitation, if ‘poorna kumbha’ is not offered the mind is deeply disturbed. We begin to expect respect and honour from all.

Today, are there not innumerable ‘Gurus’ in the world? Even if we remain quiet (and aloof) many would come up to us and supply information about them! If they (other Gurus) happen to be inferior to us in some way we would feel indifferent towards them; would ridicule them. On the other hand, if they were superior we would abhor them. Mind would begin to calculate ways to attain the fame that they enjoy. It is easy to overcome even ‘kãma’ (lust), ‘kroda’ (anger) but it is not possible to overcome jealousy. Just as we envy others, so, too others envy us. Has not this situation arisen only because we have gone about projecting ourselves as a ‘Guru’? No such agony is experienced if we always remain a Bhakta (devotee) or a ‘dãsa’ (one who serves). This is because envy arises only between persons in the same profession.

That is, a good musician would be a great fan of a popular cricketer. But, he will not be able to appreciate another good musician outwardly though he may do so within. While the expertise of that musician gives joy to others it would only irritate this fellow. Desire for fame is also dreadful, indeed. Just as jealousy arises amongst people in the same profession so does it arise amongst contemporaries only. For example, when we happen to read about a person who had lived with great fame some hundred years back, we do not entertain any comparison with him though he might have enjoyed such fame in the same profession as we are, today. Therefore, Time is also a reason for jealousy.

There are some who establish Mutts on seeing ‘Peetãdhipatiis’ of traditional Mutts. They label themselves as ‘Jagadgurus’! It is only desire that is the cause of all these and not Jnãna (knowledge). Some ascetics might have enjoyed great honour and respect from the kings and scholars of their times; yet, nothing is known about them today. Whereas, Mahans like Mira, Tukkãram, in spite of suffering humiliation during their lifetime, have won over time. There is none who does not know about them. Their ‘charitra’ (life) and kirtans still exist, having won over time. One does not get tired of listening to them any number of times. Therefore, sadhaks should be very careful. I have spoken on the name and fame that is earned by being a ‘Guru’. This is one side of the coin.

On the other side oppositions and criticisms also rise up. It is very difficult to cross over these. We find that those who had been very intimate and affectionate towards us change into our enemies. Self-pity develops in us and we think, ‘we should give up all these. What a good life we had enjoyed earlier. What a transformation has come over us!’

We would think, ‘we have moved away from our goal. Let us give up all these.’ But, now we are so caught up in this situation that it is akin to have taken hold of a tiger’s tail! (in Tamizh, there is a story depicting one’s trouble in having caught a tiger’s tail). You suffer as you are neither able to maintain the hold nor leave it.

Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji

His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, who has dedicated His life to our Sanatana Dharma, preaches the Bhakti marga (the path of Devotion) and the greatness of our Vedic heritage. Sri Swamiji lays utmost stress on the significance of Nama Kirtan (Chanting the Divine names of God) as the easiest & the most practical path to liberation in this age.

Sri Swamiji travels far and wide discoursing on a wide range of spiritual subjects ranging from our scriptures to the life histories of great Saints.

Sri Swamiji has authored several titles and composed numerous kirtans (devotional hymns) in Tamil and Sanskrit. Those inspired by the teachings of Sri Swamiji are actively involved in propagation of Nama Kirtan all over the world.