Scriptural Knowledge and Abominable Scoundrels

Question 1: I have known people who can volubly quote chunks of verses from the scriptures but they seem to have serious moral turpitude. How do we reconcile their vast knowledge with their character defect?

Answer 1: “Quoting scriptures is….not a sign to indicate the spiritual development of a person. A man may recite the whole of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras; and yet he may be the greatest and the most abominable scoundrel.” (pg. 24, Satsanga and Svadhyaya by Swami Sivananda)

[“Scoundrel” refers to a dishonest or unscrupulous (=having or showing NO moral principles) person: Oxford Dictionary]

Question 2: I have known people who give impressive lectures; yet, they have every trait that qualifies them to be un-spiritual. Oftentimes, some of them are even bad and hypocritical. How do we reconcile their impressive knowledge with their lack of spirituality?

Answer 2: “One may deliver a lecture on Adwaita Philosophy for several hours. One may interpret a verse in hundred and one ways. One may give a discourse on one verse of the Gita for a week and yet these people may not possess an iota of devotion or practical realisation of Vedantic oneness. It is all dry intellectual exercise. Nothing more than that.” (pg. 240, Sadhana by Swami Sivananda)

Answer 2: Swami Sivananda: “It is practice that counts. You know the Gita by heart. But are you living in the spirit of the Gita—that is what matters.” (Swamiji’s speech on 25.9.1950: pg. 150, Sivananda’s Lectures: All-India and Ceylon Tour).

Answer 2Mata Amritanandamayi: “Memorising something is NOT that difficult; putting what YOU have LEARNT into practice IS difficult.” (pg. 43, Lead Us to the Light)

Question 3: How is it that their knowledge of the scriptures does not help to eradicate their bad and evil tendencies?

Answer 3: “It is easy to become a lecturer on Vedanta. If you sit in a library for some years and enrich your vocabulary and phraseology and commit to memory some passages, you can deliver good lectures, in two or three years, but it is not so easy to eradicate an evil quality. Only a real aspirant who is doing Sadhana will realise his difficulty.” (pg. 240, Sadhana by Swami Sivananda)

Question 4: Some of these people who are so-called well-versed in the scriptures often say that there should be a balance between pleasure of living in this world, enjoying the sense satisfaction and leading a spiritual life. Can one make substantial progress in attaining God-Realisation in this way?

Answer 4: “Spiritual life starts with your recognition that as long as you keep going headlong in the pursuit of sense satisfaction and pleasure, you are NOT going to move one step. So all will be academic and theoretical. Our aspiration, our wanting spiritual life will only be in theory—a fancy and a feeling. You have not started. So, the beginning stage itself of the spiritual life is a turning away from sense experience and sense indulgence and starting to move in the opposite direction,” (pg. 19, The Role Celibacy in Spiritual Life by Swami Chidananda)

Question 5: So, what are the uses of spiritual or scriptural knowledge?

Answer 5: “It is not enough…merely to read the scriptures. We must hold their teachings up to the watchful presence within us…,” (pg. 203, The Promise of Immortality by Swami Kriyananda) [Swami Kriyananda is a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, the author of “Autobiography of a Yogi”].

Answer 5: “Even if we memorise the most complicated… texts, without an innocent love for God, it will be difficult to make any real spiritual progress,” Swami Ramakrishnananda (pg. 246, The Blessed Life)

Answer 5: Mata Amritanandamayi: “Knowledge is good, but ONLY when expressed in life is its benefit experienced both by ourselves and by society….(Scriptural study) must be practised in DAILY life… ONLY when we live BY its principles can we progress without flagging, no matter what the circumstance.” (pgs. 4-5, Matruvani, March 2013, Vol.24, No.7)

Answer 5: “All too often the intellect becomes satisfied with just theory about God. Great and glorious is the story of God’s presence, but greater and more glorious is the actual perception of the Infinite….If you practice one millionth of the things that I tell you…you will reach God. Success doesn’t lie in listening to my sermons, but in practising what I have told you.” (pg. 94, The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda)

Answer 5: “It is true that our ancient teachers were great, their wisdom was profound, their morals were high, and their spiritual insight transcended the limitations of time and place. HOWEVER, we have NOT been able to take advantage of the great treasure that could have made life better and brighter.” (pg. 51, Spirituality by Swami Rama)

Answer 5: “It is not enough to read the scriptures as a form of duty. One should think deeply about the meaning they contain and try to get a firm conviction about the possibility of realising the Truth.” (pg. 514, Meditation and Spiritual Life by Swami Yatiswarananda)

Attending Talks and Satsangs—Any Value at All?

Question 1: Is it wrong to attend spiritual talks by people who are quite well-read and informed?

Mata Amritanandamayi: Everyone has something to say on every topic. People are under the impression that they are all authorised to speak on any subject under the sun. Amma remembers a story. A boy once said, “I know a professor. What a great man he was!” When asked why he thought the man was great, the boy said, “He can talk for hours, no matter what the topic (is). Even if you give him an insignificant topic, he can speak for more than five hours!” Another boy who overheard this said, “Your professor can speak for only five hours, and that (has to be on) a topic! My neighbour, however, can go on talking for days on end without any topic!… (People) do not practise anything that (they) preach. (pgs. 2-3, October 2013, Matruvani, Vol. 25)

Question 2: For many years, I have been studying the holy scriptures, viz., Gita, Upanishads, etc., and I have mastered them in a way. But I do not feel the oneness of life in all. I still take delight in gossiping, backbiting, rumour-mongering, etc; I still get jealous, angry; hypocrisy subtly exists in me. Therefore, are scriptural studies of no avail? Are the scriptures for mere study alone?

Swami Sivananda: “Mere study of the Vichar Sagar or Panchadasi cannot bring in the experience of pure Advaitic consciousness. Vedantic gossiping and dry discussions on scriptures cannot help a man in feeling the unity and oneness of life. You should destroy ruthlessly all sorts of impurities, hatred, jealousy, envy, idea of superiority and all barriers that separate man from man. This can be done by incessant, selfless service of humanity with the right mental attitude. Practical Vedanta is rare in these days. There are dry discussions and meaningless fights over the non-essentials of religions. People study a few books and pose as Jivanmuktas. Even if there be one real Jivanmukta, he will be a great dynamic force to guide the whole world. He can change the destiny of the world. The present-day Jivanmuktas are mere bookworms. Many imagine that they can become Jivanmuktas by a little study of Laghu Siddhanta Kaumudi and Tarka. Oneness of life can be had only by Self-realization through constant spiritual practice. Study of scriptures can help you a bit, but it cannot make you a Jivanmukta.” (pgs. 143-144, May I Answer that?)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…Learning becomes complete only when one is able to express what one has learnt in one’s life. One who strives to do is a true disciple.” (pg. 4, October 2013, Matruvani, Vol. 25)


Walk Your Talk

Swami Sivananda: “Live in the spirit of the teachings of the Gita. Mere talk and lecture will not help you in any way. You may know the whole of the Gita by heart and may deliver lectures for several hours. But they are of NO avail without wisdom. What is wanted is SOLID Sadhana with mental non-attachment and REGULAR practice of the teachings of the Gita,” (pg. 169, Sermonettes of Swami Sivananda)

Swami Sivananda: “Spiritual life is not a mere idle talk. it is not mere sensation. It is actual living in Atman. It is a transcendental experience of unalloyed bliss. Tread the path of truth and righteousness. Stick tenaciously to the twenty instructions. Be regular in your meditation.

“Be patient. Practise introspection. Do selfless service. Develop Vairagya. You will attain immortality,” (pg. 132, Sermonettes of Swami Sivananda)

Swami Sivananda: “Mere hearing of eloquent, valuable lectures will not do in the spiritual path. You will have to act according to them. You will have to give your whole heart, mind and soul to the practice. Then only will you have progress in the path. Follow the instructions of your Master and the teachings of the scriptures to the very letter. Give no leniency to the mind. Exact, implicit, strict obedience to the instructions is expected of you.” (pg. 44, Sermonettes of Swami Sivananda).

Swami Sivananda: “Men who read much and work little are like bells, which sound to call others and they themselves never enter into a church.” (pg. 118, Sermonettes of Swami Sivananda).

Swami Sivananda: “Instead of trying to become a Pundit with vanity and pedantry and thirst for applause, try to develop a clean unblemished virtuous life.”  (pg. 119, Sermonettes of Swami Sivananda).

Swami Sivananda: “High education, vast study of scriptures, wealth, rich offerings are not necessary for attaining God-realisation. What is wanted is purity of heart and sincere devotion.”  (pg. 120, Sermonettes of Swami Sivananda).

Swami Sivananda: “… attending or conducting Ramayana or Bhagavata may, no doubt, aid one’s spiritual aptitude. But, if you do not fulfill the fundamentals of ethics and morality, all the above observances would no way ensure Self-realisation. Therefore, first and foremost, please look to the rudiments of ethics and morality.” (pg. 135-136, Sermonettes of Swami Sivananda).

Swami Sivananda: “One may deliver a lecture on Advaita philosophy for several hours. One may interpret a verse in a hundred and one ways. One may give a discourse on one Sloka of Gita for a week and yet those people may not possess an iota of devotion or practical realisation of vedantic oneness. It is all dry intellectual exercises. Nothing more than that. Vedanta is a living experience. A Vedantin need not advertise that he is an Advaitin. The sweet divine aroma of Vedanta oneness will be ever emanating from him. Everybody will feel this. (pg. 76, Sermonettes of Swami Sivananda).

Gita Jayanti by Swami Sivananda

By the grace of Bhagavan Vyasa this unique Gospel of the Gita was revealed to the world by Sanjaya on the eleventh day (Ekadasi) of the bright half of the Margasirsha month (December) according to the Hindu almanac. This day is celebrated as the Gita Jayanti or the Birthday of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, throughout India by all admirers and lovers of this wonderful treasure of wisdom.

Worship the Srimad Bhagavad Gita as a holy scripture. Study a chapter from it daily. But, stop not with that. Live in the spirit of the teachings of the Gita. Mere talk and lecture will not help you in any way. You may know the whole of the Gita by heart; you may deliver lectures on the Gita for hours together; and yet, you may not have a ray of the wisdom of the Gita. What is wanted is regular practice of the teachings of the Gita. Become intensely practical. Let the Gita guide your thoughts, prompt your speech, and rule your actions. Then your whole attitude towards life will be gradually changed. You will become a God-man with God-vision. You will no more be perturbed by success or failure, pleasure or pain, loss or gain. You will attain courage, strength, peace and bliss in this very life, right where you are. May the blessings of Lord Krishna be upon you all!
An excerpt from The Bhagavad Gita

Are There Intelligent Life Forms Other Than Humans Elsewhere in the Universe?

Several theories have been propounded about the possible basis of alien life from a biochemical, evolutionary or morphological viewpoint.

Alien life, such as bacteria, has been theorized by scientists such as Carl Sagan to exist in the Solar System and quite possibly throughout the Universe. Hitherto, no samples of the same have been found though.

Certain scientific-minded people, and a small circle of the scientific world have concluded that there is a strong possibility of the existence of life forms in other planets or stars. How did they conclude that there is intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy? The Green Bank formula is a way to statistically guess the possible number of intelligent civilisations in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The equation is  used to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. It is used in the fields of exobiology and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). The equation was devised by Frank Drake in 1961. Dr Carl Sagan, who was a good friend of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, had explained the equation in his book, Cosmos.


N = the number of stars or civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible. It is estimated that there are 400 billion stars, and 
R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy 
fp = is the number of planets. one in three stars may have a solar system, averaging perhaps 10 planets each, for a total of 1,300 billion planets. Since 1995, more than 6 nearby stars were confirmed to have planets around them. 
ne = is the number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets. Since life exists on Earth in a wide range of temperature and environment, this is guessed at two per system. That gives a total of 300 billion planets on which life might evolve.  
f = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point. It was estimated by Carl Sagan (based on the range of scientific opinion) at one in three. That means there might be 100 billion inhabited worlds. 
fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life. Such a development might be rare, or it might be inevitable. Sagan uses the conservative figure of one in ten. We could have in our galaxy an estimated 10 billion worlds with intelligent life.  
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space. This is estimated at one in 10, for a total of one billion technically advanced civilisations in the galaxy. 
L = the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space. Does an advanced civilisation destroy itself, as we on Earth seem inclined to do, or does it endure for millions of years? If even one percent survive, states Sagan, “The number of such advanced living civilisations is in the millions.”

According to Hindu scriptures, there are innumerable universes to facilitate the fulfillment of the separated desires of innumerable living entities. However, the purpose of such creations is to bring back the deluded souls to correct understanding about the purpose of life. Aside from the innumerable universes which are material, there is also the unlimited spiritual world, where the purified living entities live with perfect conception about life and ultimate reality. The spiritually aspiring saints and devotees, as well as thoughtful men of the material world, have been getting guidance and help from these purified living entities of the spiritual world from time immemorial. However, the relevance of such descriptions has to be evaluated in the context of a correct understanding of geography and science at those times.

Hindu scriptures often speak of the many lokas, or planes of existence, and dvipas, or islands. They talk of beings coming from other lokas to this loka, possibly even of spaceships in which they could travel. These lokas, however, are more commonly interpreted as other dimensions of existence rather than physical planets.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of ISKCON, addressed this question in his commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam: “According to Vedic understanding, the entire universe is regarded as an ocean of space. In that ocean there are innumerable planets, and each planet is called a dvipa, or island. The various planets are divided into fourteen lokas. As Priyavrata drove his chariot behind the sun, he created seven different types of oceans and planetary systems, known as Bhuloka.” (Bhag 8:19:19)

Srila Prabhupada also stated that according to the Vedic tradition there are 400,000 species in the universe with humanlike form, many of them advanced beyond us. Other parts of Hindu scripture refer to travel to other worlds. The Rig Veda hymns on death speak of man’s soul traveling to the sun and the moon, then returning to Earth.

[pgs, xxiii-xxiv, Lemurian Scrolls. References had also been made to Vedic Cosmography & Astronomy, Scientific American (Aug, 2002)]  

HistorIES of Deepavali and Why You MUST Celebrate It

You are not wrong. The word “history” has been spelt with “ies”: in the plural, that is. When “Deepavali” is mentioned, the first personality who comes to our minds is “Narakasuran” (that if you are a Tamil), and it will be Lord Rama if you are a North Indian.

Actually, there are many histories of Deepavali. If it leads you to wonder how can one event could have several beginnings, you need just to read on to discover how many are it came to be so: every one of the touted geneses is full of spiritual import and symbolism. Let’s now look at the popular puranic stories connected with the Festival of Lights.

Lord Rama and Deepavali

In North India, the Hindus celebrate Deepavali (which they call Diwali or Diwaali) to commemorate the return of Lord Sri Ramachandra after His 14 years of Vanvasa (=banishment): it is on this day that he returned to country. Tradition has it that, His overjoyed citizens celebrated His return by lighting rows and rows of lamps on the path that He was to tread.

Lord Krishna and Deepavali
In the South, on the other hand, Deepavali is the day Narakasura fell: after his mother, Srimati Satyabhama, vanquished him in a battle between him and her on the 14th day (Chathuthi Thithi), as he lay on his death bed, he asked Sri Krishna for a boon, i.e., to celebrate his death day as a day of victory for Dharma. This day became Deepavali. This is the puranic story that the peoples in Singapore, Malaysia, South India and Sri Lanka often cite for their reasons to celebrate the festival.

Hare Krsnas and Deepavali (?)
The Vaishnavites, including the hare Krsnas, celebrate the day after Deepavali as Govardhan Puja. It is the day, the scriptures say, Sri Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. According to this tale, Sri Krishna dissuaded the people of his land from doing the annual offering to Lord Indra. When the villagers went by His advice, Indra became very angry and punished them by causing floods in their village. Sri Krishna finally defeated him. (The point to note is that the Hare Krsnas or their fellow Vaishnavites do not consider this day as Deepavali, and neither do they regard Deepavali as Vaishnava festival.)

Mahavira and Deepavali
Deepavali has a very significant place even in the history of the Jains. According to their scriptures, it is on this very day that Mahavira, their founder archarya, attained nirvana (=enlightenment). Their scriptures say that the gods illuminated a city by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, their scripture say the people of Bharat celebrate the famous festival of lights to worship the Mahavira on the occasion of his nirvana. Incidentally, on the same day, many years later, Mahavira’s principal disciple came by the Supreme Knowledge.

Guru Har Gobind and Deepavali
Deepavali is very important to the Sikhs. It is on Deepavali that their 6th Guru and 52 others were released from Mougul Emperor’s prison. The Sikhs celebrated the return of their Guru by lighting the Golden Temple, and this tradition continues today.

Bhrungi Rishi and Deepavali
According to the Saivites, Kedara Gowri Vrata (in short, “Gowri/Gauri Vrata”) is called Deepavali. Swami Kripananda Variyaar has mentioned this in one of his books. One of the puranic stories says that the vrata started because one “Bhrungi Rishi”. (In Sanskrit, Bhrunga refers to “bee”).

Bhrungi was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He, however, had one great defect despite all his devotion: he never wanted to pray to Devi; hence, he chose to completely ignore Her! He ignored her even when he had to circumambulate the Lord: he would ignore the Divine Mother.

The Lord wanted to rid him of this ego. Hence, Lord Shiva and and Mother Parvathy merged into one and appeared as Ardhanareeshwara before the Saint.The saint, in his insistence in seeing the Lord different from Mother, assumed the form of a Bee, and pierced the body of Ardhanareeshwara, and tried circumambulating  Shiva only.

Divine mother withdrew her shakthi from the bee-form “Bhrungi”. The rishi had to re-assume his usual human form: he, however, could not stand on his legs— his intense and arduous tapas did not help him. Lord Shiva, in His lila, gave the rishi a staff to support himself!

Lord Shiva, out of karuna, pacified Mother Shakthi, and made the Rishi realise his folly. Thus, the day when the rishi realised the oneness of Shiva-shakthi, it was Deepavali: he did Kedara-gowri Vratha Himself.

Kurma Avatar and Deepavali
Some people who do a narrow reading of Kurma Avatar lila (which is found in not one but in a number of upa-Puranas) ascribe the genesis of Deepavali to the day of this avatar. There is no explicit mention of the connection between the incarnation and the festival in the puranas but an incident of the Lord’s contact with oil in a field that grew “Eal” had been interpreted by some pundits as the beginning of the Tamilians’ oil bath on Narakachathuthi or Deepavali.

If you were to look at the above histories, you will notice that in most cases (except one: Narakasura’s death),  it is not that Deepavali started from the eventful day or auspicious incident, rather an eventful or auspicious incident happened on the day of Deepavali. It is such a wonderfully spiritual day that the Lord or great personalities of the Puranic age had chosen that particular day for an event to take place.

Swami Haridoss says that Deepavali is so auspicious that even Sanyasis, who had renounced every want and desire, should honour the day with vasthiram offering. 

Importance of Incessant Japa, Reading Rishies’ Works and Discipline by Swami Paramatmananda

Don’t think that repetition is a small thing. Repetition is the whole key to Self-realisation. For example: mantra japa. We don’t even have to know the meaning of our mantra. That is why Amma says, “It is enough if you just repeat it. Don’t even bother about the meaning.” Just practise that repetition again and again and again. Gradually, it will purify the mind. It will decrease the thoughts, and then everything will start to reveal itself.
…If a mahatma tells me to do a thing, God is telling me to do that thing. That is how we should also interact with great souls. They they tell us to do a thing, don’t take it so lightly, as if somebody on the street has told you to do a thing. Take it that God Himself has told you to do that.
…If you take a book written by a mahatma like Tulasidas, or you take the Bhagavata, or the Mahabarata, or any book that is written by a rishi, a sage, and you go on reading it again and again and again, finally what happens? The Grace of that rishi starts to dawn in you, in spite of who or what you are; the divine knowledge comes: the Grace. And then, you get the bliss, and insight , ecstasy, and intuition. There is no other way. We can exercise our intellect any way, but we won’t get it. We have to get it only through Grace, and Grace is got through repetition and discipline. There is no other way. 
Mantras are like that also. Just go on repeating it, again and again, and the Grace will dawn.
Don’t think that habit and repetition are a bunch of nonsense. If Amma says to regularly repeat your mantra, or regularly do your meditation, she is not just saying it; it is not just to get a good habit. That is the way to get Grace, and you can’t get Grace in any other way. We have to develop that discipline and that habit.
(pgs. 122-123, 124, 125, Talks, Vol.3) 

People who don’t seem to know anything are the ones who really make spiritual progress!

Mata Amirtanandamayi, “…People with little knowledge, after reading two or three books, will create problems.” (pg. 79). 
Mata Amirtanandamayi, “You’ve read a lot of books. You’ve got so many ideas, so your mind is filled with things… your mind has to become empty of all those things…” (pg. 82).
Swami Paramatmananda, “…Sometimes, the simplest people are the ones who get it (Samadhi) the soonest, not the smart ones. Being smart is not everything in life, especially in spiritual life. As you make spiritual progress, as your mind gets clearer, as your mind gets cleaner, then your intelligence starts to shine…Sometimes, people who don’t seem to know anything are the ones who really make spiritual progress… the simple people are the ones who are the real winners, not the smart one or the clever ones….
“….Understanding, hearing and studying it (i.e., the Divine principle of living) is one thing. Putting it into practice is quite another thing. It’s very easy to read and understand spiritual things, but not to practise it. Even a little bit of practice is difficult.”

(pgs.82-83, 87, Talks, Vol.3)

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)

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)