Friends, we have come halfway through the Gita. It will be worthwhile to recapitulate before we proceed further. In the First Chapter, it is stated that the Gita is for overcoming delusions and inducing us to follow swadharma. In the Second Chapter, the basic principles of life are stated and the concepts of karmayoga and sthitaprajna are spelt out. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 explain the concepts of karma, vikarma and akarma. Karma means the actions done for the performance of swadharma. Vikarma means inner mental action that needs to be done to aid such performance. When karma and vikarma fuse together, mind is completely purified, passions and cravings die out, distinctions vanish, and then the state of akarma is reached. This state is of two kinds. In one, hectic activity goes on unceasingly but still the doer feels inwardly that he is doing nothing. In the other, one is outwardly inactive but is still acting ceaselessly. The state of akarma attains fruition in both the ways. Although these two ways appear different, they are completely identical. These ways are called karmayoga and sannyasa respectively. Although they are known by different terms, they have the same essence. The state of akarma is the ultimate goal, which is also called moksha. Thus, in the first five Chapters of the Gita, the philosophy of life has been fully spelt out.
To attain the state of akarma, there are various types of vikarma. There are several means for the purification of the mind. Important among them have been described from the Sixth Chapter onwards. The Sixth Chapter tells about the yoga of meditation to have one-pointedness of mind and about the supplementary means of abhyasa and vairagya. The Seventh Chapter is about the great and noble means of bhakti. You may go to the Lord either with love or with the quest for knowledge or with passion for the well-being of all, or even with desire for personal gains; the important thing is to enter into the presence of the Lord. I call it prapattiyoga or the yoga that asks us to surrender to God. The Eighth Chapter puts forward satatyayoga (the yoga of uninterrupted pursuit). You will not find these terms in other commentaries; I have coined these terms myself as I have found them useful for understanding the Gita. Satatyayoga means continuing the sadhana—the spiritual quest—till death. One should never leave the chosen path; one should go on advancing along that path without a break. If one vacillates, there is absolutely no hope that he will ever reach the goal. One should never despair or get tired and complain, “How long am I to go on doing sadhana?” Sadhana should continue till it attains fruition.
After explaining this satatyayoga, the Lord tells in the Ninth Chapter something very simple, yet capable of transforming life totally. That is rajayoga. This Chapter asks us to dedicate all the actions to the Lord as and when they take place. All the means enjoined by the scriptures, all the karma and vikarma—everything gets dissolved in rajayoga, the yoga of surrender. Nothing else is needed. Surrender of everything to the Lord is an all-encompassing and powerful idea. It appears simple and easy, but still it turns out to be exceedingly difficult. This sadhana is easy because anybody, from an illiterate villager to a great scholar, can practice it where ever he is, without much effort. But although easy, it requires extraordinary moral and spiritual merit.
‘बहुतां सुकृतांची जोडी । म्हणुनी विठ्ठलीं आवडी’
(‘It is only when good deeds are done in many births that the mind is drawn towards the Lord.’)
The most trivial things bring tears to our eyes, but the Lord’s Name does not move us to tears. What is to be done then? This sadhana, as the saints say, is easy in one sense, but difficult in another; it has become all the more difficult in the modern times.
Today, the film of materialism has obscured our view. We begin by doubting God’s existence. Nobody finds Him anywhere. Life is full of lust, passions and distortions and iniquities. The greatest among the philosophers of our time cannot think of anything higher than providing two square meals daily to all. They are not to be blamed for it; it is a fact that many do not get even that. How to provide food to all is the biggest problem today, and the best brains are busy in tackling it. Sayanacharya has defined Rudra as ‘बुभुक्षमाणः रुद्ररूपेण अवतिष्ठते’—the hungry people are Rudra1incarnate. A number of ideologies, isms and programmes have arisen to solve the problem of hunger. We have no time to look beyond this problem and think of anything else. The most strenuous efforts are being made to find out how people could have a couple of morsels in peace without clashing with each other. In such a strange social order, it is no wonder that the simple idea of dedication to the Lord appears exceedingly difficult. What is the remedy? We shall see in the Tenth Chapter how to master the yoga of dedication to the Lord, how to make it easy to practice.
50. An Easy Way To Learn To See God
The Tenth Chapter suggests the same methods that are employed in teaching the children to enable us to see the Lord everywhere. The children are taught the alphabet in two ways. One method is to teach the letters first by writing them in big size. When the children are conversant with them, they are acquainted with the letters in smaller sizes. The other method is to teach simple letters first and the complicated ‘joint’2 letters thereafter. In the same way, we should first learn to see God in bigger and more conspicuous things. The Lord manifest in oceans or high mountains can be grasped at once. When we come to experience His presence therein, we shall realise subsequently that He is present even in a drop of water or a speck of dust. There is no difference between the capital ‘A’ and the small ‘a’. This is one way. The other way is to see Him first in His simpler manifestations, and then move on to His complicated manifestations. One can quickly comprehend His manifestation in a pure form. For example, one can easily discern God in Rama. Rama is like a simple letter. But what about Ravana? Ravana is like a ‘joint’ letter. In Ravana, His manifestation is difficult to discern because there is a mixture of good and evil in the person of Ravana. Ravana’s penance and energy are indeed great, but they are mixed with cruelty. So, to begin with, learn to behold God manifest in Rama, who is full of love and compassion. It will take time to discern divinity in Ravana. But one has to reach that stage. One should first learn to discern God in a good person, but ultimately one should be able to discern Him in an evil person too. The Lord who is in an ocean is present in a drop of water too. The Lord who is in Rama is present in Ravana too. What is present in the gross is present in the subtle; what is present in the simple is present in the complex. Our vision should be informed with this outlook.
This vast creation is like the Lord’s Book. When our eyes are covered with thick veils, we think that the Book is closed. Everywhere in this Book, the name of the Lord is written in beautiful letters. But we fail to read that. A major obstacle is that a man does not recognise the Lord in the ordinary and simple forms which are near him and His distant and dazzling manifestations are too difficult to grasp. If you tell him to see God in the mother, he will say, “Is God so simple?” But if the Lord appears before you with His dazzling splendour, will you be able to stand the sight? Kunti3 wished to see the sun-god face to face, but when he approached her, she could not stand the scorching heat. We cannot bear the Lord with all His power and glory. But we do not accept Him in milder and gentler forms. We cannot digest sweets made from milk and do not relish ordinary milk! These are the symptoms of our wretchedness and doom. Such a sick mind is a great obstacle that prevents us from seeing Him. We must discard this state of mind.
51. God In Human Form
The first and the foremost form of the Lord for us is our mother. The Veda says, ‘मातृदेवो भव ।’ (‘Let your mother be your God.’) Who but the mother does the new-born baby see first? The Lord Himself stands there as the embodiment of tenderness. We can move on from the worship of the mother to the worship of Mother India and still further to the worship of Mother Earth. But in the beginning the mother is the highest form in which the Lord appears before the child. It is quite possible to attain moksha through the worship of the mother. Worship of the mother means worship of the Lord as love incarnate; the mother is just the medium. The Lord endows her with His affection and impels her to toil for her child. The poor mother does not understand why she feels so much love and affection for the child. Does she do everything for the child with the calculation that it might be of use to her in her old age? Not at all. She undergoes labour pains while giving birth to the child. That pain makes her passionately attached to her child. That pain makes her love the child. She just cannot help loving it. The mother is the embodiment of boundless service. To worship her is the highest form of the worship of the Lord. It is as ‘Mother’ that we should address the Lord. Is there a word nobler and more exalted than this? Mother is the most prominent and the simplest manifestation of the Lord that we come across. Learn to see God in her; and then in the father and in the guru. The guru imparts knowledge to us, makes of us human beings in the true sense. How indebted are we to him! Thus, we should start with seeing God in the conspicuous forms of the mother, the father, the guru and the saints, in this order. Where else can we see Him if not there?
Likewise, how nice would it be if we could see Him in children! Dhruva, Prahlad, Nachiketa, Sanak, Sanandan, Sanatkumar—all these were children, but Vyasa and other authors of the Puranas (the ancient mythological tales) are so fond of them that they are never tired of talking about them, of extolling them with love and admiration. Even as children Shuka, Shankaracharya, Jnanadeva were free from desires and attachment. Nowhere else did the Lord manifest Himself in a purer form. Jesus was greatly fond of children. Once his disciples asked him, “You talk so much about the Kingdom of God. Who can enter it?” Jesus lifted up in his arms a child standing nearby and said, “Only those who are like this child.” What Jesus said is indeed true. Saint Ramdas was once playing with children. Someone asked him with surprise, “What has happened to you today?” Ramdas said,
वयें पोर ते थोर होऊन गेले
वयें थोर ते चोर होऊन ठेले
(‘Children have attained greatness, while those advanced in age have proved to be scoundrels.’)
As the age advances, innocence gets eroded. One becomes clever and presumptuous. Then one hardly thinks of the Lord. The minds of children are pure and unsullied. We teach a child, “Do not tell lies.” He asks, “What is a lie?” Then we explain that the statement must correspond to the facts. The child is nonplussed. How can one make a statement that does not correspond to the facts? It is like telling that a rectangle must be called a rectangle and not a circle. The child is surprised at this teaching. Children are the purest manifestations of God. Adults teach them all wrong.
In short, if we cannot see the Lord in the mother, the father, the guru, the saints and the children, we will not be able to see Him in any other form, as these are His best manifestations. One must first learn to recognise Him in His gentler manifestations, wherein divinity is inscribed in bold capital letters—where it is the most conspicuous.
52. God In Creation
We must first learn to see Him in pure and gentle forms among human beings. Likewise we should also see Him first in His grand and beautiful forms in nature.
Look at the divine glow that precedes sunrise on the horizon at the dawn. The Vedic sages looked upon it as a goddess and danced in ecstasy while singing her hymns: “O Usha! You are the messenger of the Lord. You are bathed in dew drops. You are the banner of immortality.” So captivating and magnificent their descriptions are! The Vedic sage says, “If I do not comprehend Him even after seeing you, the divine messenger, what else can convince me of His presence?” Such is the splendour of Usha at the horizon. But we have no eyes for her.
Likewise, look at the sun. To see him is to see the Lord. He keeps on painting an endless variety of pictures on the canvas of the sky. Artists labour hard for months in trying to catch the beauty of the sunrise on the canvas. But, rise early in the morning and just have a look at the Lord’s art on the horizon. With what can we compare that divine art, that infinite beauty? But who bothers to look at that? The Lord is there with all His splendour; but man, the wretched creature, pulls the sheets a little closer and continues to snore. The sun says, “You lazy man! I shall not let you sleep any more,” and it wakes him up with his warm rays. ‘सूर्य आत्मा जगतस्तस्थुषश्च’—the sun is the soul of all that moves and all that is still. It is the support of everything animate and inanimate. The sages have called it ‘Mitra’ (the friend). ‘मित्रो जनान् यातयति ब्रुवाणो मित्रो दाधार पृथिवीमुत द्याम्’—‘This friend calls out people and makes them work. He sustains the heaven and the earth.’ The sun is indeed the support of life. See God in him.
And the holy river Ganga! When I was at Kashi (Benares), I used to go and sit alone on her banks in the silent hours of the night. How lovely and pleasing the Ganga is as she flows by! That serene and majestic expanse and the countless stars in the sky reflected therein would make me silent. This holy river has descended from the matted locks of Lord Shiva, that is, from the Himalayan forests. Many kings cast off their kingdoms, considering them no better than a bauble, and performed austerities and penance on its banks for Self-realisation. The sight of that holy river would give me an experience of sheer peace. How can I describe that peace? Words fail in describing it. I would then realise why a Hindu wishes that if he cannot take a bath in the Ganga during his life-time, at least his remains should be immersed in her after death. You may ridicule such sentiments; that does not matter. I find such sentiments sacred and worth cherishing. It is a custom to put a couple of drops of the Ganga-water in the mouth of a dying man. Those drops symbolize God’s grace. The Ganga is a form of the Lord. In the form of the Ganga, it is His compassion that is flowing. Like a mother, Mother Ganga cleans us all over, washes off all the impurities of our body and mind. If you do not find the Lord in the Ganga, where else could you find Him? The sun, the rivers, the majestic roaring ocean, all these are forms of the Lord.
And the winds! Whence they come and where they go, nobody knows. They are the messengers of the Lord. In India, winds blow from the unmoving Himalayas in the north as well as from the serene ocean in the south. These holy winds touch us and awaken us. They whisper melodies in our ears. But who cares to hear their message? If the jailor withholds an ordinary letter addressed to you, you feel dejected. Poor wretch! What is there so precious in that letter? The winds are bringing the Lord’s loving messages every moment. Listen to them.
The Veda has prescribed fire-worship. Fire (Agni) too is a form of God. How bright and glowing it is! When you rub two wooden sticks against each other, it reveals itself. Who knows where it was hidden till then? It is so warm and luminous! The very first hymn in the Rig Veda, in fact, is about fire-worship—
Look at the fire, with whose worship the Veda begins. The flames of fire remind me of the quest of the human soul to reach up to the Lord. The flames may be from a kitchen stove or they may belong to the forest fire—they are always striving to go upwards. They are always agitated and restless. Scientists may say that their fluttering is due to ether or air-pressure. But I see in it the quest of the luminous flames to reach the Supreme Spirit, to reach the sun-god who is the ocean of luminosity. It is a quest of the part to merge into the whole. The endless quest of the flames starts with their creation and ceases only on their extinction. That the sun is too distant never bothers them; all they know is to make the best possible effort. It appears that the bright and glowing heat of vairagya has assumed the form of the fire. The flame of vairagya also does not remain still wherever it is. That is why the Veda began with the word ‘अग्निमीळे’.
53. God In The Animals
And the cattle that serve us! How full of love, tenderness and affection the cow is! In the evening it rushes to its calves running through hills and forests. The Vedic sages are reminded of heavy-uddered cows rushing to their calves to feed them when they see rivers gushing through hilly ranges. The sage says to a river, “O Goddess, like cows, you bring milk-like holy and sweet water. Just as cows cannot stay back in the forest, you too cannot stay back in the hills. You rush to meet your thirsty children.”—‘वाश्रा इव धेनवः स्यंदमानाः’ (‘The waters rushed to the sea like the lowing cows eager to meet their calves’.) The Lord is there at your door in the form of the affectionate cow.
And the horse! How noble, how faithful, how loyal it is! How dearly the Arabs love their horses! Do you know the story of the Arab who was compelled by financial difficulties to sell his horse? He went to the stable with the bagful of money received as its price. But the moment he glanced at the serene and loving eyes of the horse, he threw away the money and said, “Come what may. Let me die of hunger if I must. But I will not sell the horse. God will help me.” How the horse snorts when we pat its back! How lovely its mane is! Indeed, the horse has many qualities. What is there in a bicycle? Look after a horse well, curry it regularly, and it will be ready to die for you; it will become your friend. A friend of mine was learning to ride, but the horse would not let him mount it. When he complained about it, I told him, “You try to ride the horse, but do you ever care for it? When someone else looks after the horse and you want to ride it, how will it work? Curry it first, give it food and water, and then try.” The friend did accordingly. He came to me after a few days and said, “Now the horse does not throw me off.” The horse too is a form of the Lord. Will the Lord throw off His devotee? That horse yielded to my friend’s devotion. A horse does see whether the rider is a devotee or not. Lord Krishna used to curry and feed the horses Himself. Unlike a bicycle, a horse jumps over ditches and ascends the hills. The graceful and loving horse is verily a form of God.
In my childhood, I was at Baroda. There I used to hear a lion’s resonant roar in the morning. That majestic sound would move my heart. It used to reverberate in the depth of my heart like the sound in the sanctum sanctorum of a temple. How gallant and benign the lion looks! It has a regal gait and elegance. Its beautiful mane appears like a royal insignia. That lion in Baroda was caged. It would roam inside that cage. There was not a trace of cruelty in its eyes; they were rather full of pity. It appeared absorbed within itself, totally unconcerned with the world. One feels that such a lion must indeed be a manifestation of the Lord. In my childhood, I had read the story of Androcles and the lion. How fascinating it is! The famished lion remembered Androcles’ earlier kindness and, instead of devouring him, began to lick his feet lovingly. What does this mean? This means that Androcles had seen the Lord in the lion. Lord Shiva is always accompanied by a lion. The lion is a manifestation of the Lord.
And is the tiger less fascinating? Divine brilliance shines through it. It is not impossible to befriend it. Panini, the great grammarian, was teaching his students in the forest when a tiger came there. The students got frightened and shouted, 'vyaghra,vyaghra' (Tiger, Tiger)!But Panini calmly began explaining to them the etymology of the word ‘vyaghra’ (tiger): ‘व्याजिघ्रतीति व्याघ्र:’—vyaghra is one having an acute sense of smell. The students had got frightened, but to Panini, ‘vyaghra’ was just an innocent and interesting word. The tiger ate him up. But so what? Panini must have smelt sweet to the tiger, so it ate him up with relish. What is striking is that Panini did not run away. He was a devotee of God in the form of words. For him, God was in everything, even in that tiger. That is why he is reverentially referred to as ‘Lord Panini’ in the commentaries, and his contribution is acknowledged with deep gratitude :
‘अज्ञानान्धस्य लोकस्य ज्ञानाञ्जनशलाकया ।
चक्षु्रुन्मीलितं येन तस्यै पाणिनये नमः’
(‘We bow to Panini who opened the eyes of the people, blind with ignorance, by putting the collyrium of knowledge in them.’)
Jnanadeva has said,
‘घरा येवो पां स्वर्ग । कां वरिपडो व्याघ्र
परी आत्मबुध्दीसी भंग । कदा नोहे’
(‘Let heaven descend to his house, or a tiger attack him, he remains anchored in the Self.’)
Panini had reached such a stage. He had realized that a tiger too was a manifestation of the Lord.
This is true of the snake too. People are very much afraid of it. But look, how scrupulously clean and beautiful it is! In its stern regard for cleanliness, it is comparable to an orthodox Brahmin. Dirty Brahmins are, however, in abundance; but has anybody ever seen a dirty snake? A snake is like a hermit living in solitude. It looks like a pure, bright and charming garland. Why should one be afraid of it? In fact, our ancestors have prescribed snake-worship.4 You may call it an idiotic superstitious practice in Hinduism, but anyway it is there. In my childhood, on the Nagpanchami day, I would draw a snake with sandalwood paste for my mother to worship. I would tell her, “Nice pictures of snakes are available in the market.” But she would say, “They are no good. What is drawn by my child is the best for me.” What does snake-worship mean? Is it craziness? Let us think over it. In the month of Shravana (in the rainy season), the snake comes as a guest to our house, as its habitat is swamped by water. What can the poor creature do then? This sage-like, solitude-loving creature wants to give you the least possible trouble and therefore coils itself taking minimum space. But we go after its blood. Does it behove us to kill a guest in difficulty? It is said of Saint Francis that he would call the snakes in the forest and they would come and play and crawl all over his body. Do not disbelieve this. Love does have such a power. The snakes are believed to be poisonous. But is man less so? A snake bites very rarely; it never bites without provocation. Nine out of ten snakes, at any rate, are non-poisonous. They protect your fields by killing pests that would otherwise destroy the crops. Such a helpful, clean and shining snake, the lover of solitude, is a form of the Lord. Snakes are associated with all our gods in some way or the other. Lord Ganapati wears a snake round His waist, Lord Shiva has it round His neck and Lord Vishnu reclines on the bed of a cobra. Try to understand the secret of it. All this means that the Lord has manifested Himself in the snake too. Get acquainted with Him in that form.
How many such examples should I give? I am just illustrating a point. The essence of the Ramayana lies in such fascinating ideas. In the Ramayana, there is depiction of love between father and son, between mother and son, between brother and brother, between husband and wife etc. But the Ramayana is dear to me not because of that, but because of Rama’s friendship with the vanaras5 (monkeys). Now it is said that the vanaras were in reality people belonging to the Naga tribe. It is the job of the historians to dig up the past and make such discoveries. I do not intend to join issue with them. But why should it be impossible for Rama to befriend the monkeys? Rama’s greatness and the charm of His personality lie precisely in this friendship. Similar is the relationship between Krishna and His herd of cows. Worship of Krishna is based on that relationship. In every picture of Krishna we find Him surrounded by cows. He is adored as Gopalkrishna (Krishna the cowherd.) Krishna without the company of cows and Rama without the company of vanaras are simply inconceivable. Rama saw God in the vanaras and struck a relationship of love and affection with them. This is the key to the Ramayana. Without it you would miss the charm in it. You would find the depiction of relationship between parents and children elsewhere too, but the beautiful relationship between nara and vanara—men and monkeys—is found only in the Ramayana. The Ramayana made us realize that there is God in the monkeys too. The sages admired the monkeys fondly. Those monkeys would travel from Ramtek to the Krishna river,6 skipping from tree to tree, without ever touching the ground. Such dense forests and the monkeys playing therein with gay abandon would move the sages to write poetry. In an Upanishad, Brahman (God) is described as having monkey-like eyes. A monkey’s eyes are very restless; they are always watching everything around. Brahman’seyes ought to be like them. God cannot sit still with closed eyes; we may. If God sits still, what will happen to the world? In the monkey’s eyes the sages see the eyes of the Brahman watching all of us solicitously. Learn to see God in a monkey.
And what about the peacock! Peacocks are rare in Maharashtra, but Gujarat has them in plenty. I am habituated to walking ten to twelve miles daily. While in Gujarat, I used to see a lot of peacocks during my walks. When the clouds gather in the sky and the rain looks imminent, the peacock gives a call. To hear that cry emerging from the depths of its heart is a stirring experience. Our whole science of music is based on the note of that cry—the shadja(षड्जं रौति). Shadja is the basic note of the Indian system of music. The peacock, with its eyes raised towards the rain-heavy clouds, gives a deep-throated cry and spreads its plummage the moment the clouds begin to thunder. It certainly is a bewitching sight. The beauty and elegance of that plummage is enough to humble man’s pride. Kings may bedeck themselves with all the fineries, but they cannot excel a peacock. Its plummage with innumerable shades of colours is indeed a piece of marvellous artistry. Enjoy its beauty and also see God therein. The whole creation is bedecked in such a fascinating way. The Lord is there all around; but we, the wretched creatures, fail to behold him. Tukaram has said, ‘देव आहे सुकाळ देंशी, अभाग्यासी दुर्भिक्ष।।’ The Lord is everywhere, but to the wretched He is elusive. For the saints there is prosperity everywhere, while for us there is famine.
How can one forget the cuckoo? Whom does it call? In the summer, rivers and streams dry up, but tender green leaves sprout on trees. Does it ask, ‘Who brought about this marvel? Where is its creator?’ How intense and sweet is its voice! A religious observance named kokilavrata has been prescribed in Hinduism. Women observing this vrata take food only after hearing the cuckoo’s note. This observance teaches us to see the Lord in the cuckoo. The cuckoo seems to be chanting the Upanishads in its melodious voice. One hears its voice, but it remains hidden. The poet Wordsworth was so enchanted by the cuckoo that he would wander in the forest in search of it. The great poet of England is mad after a cuckoo; but in India, even ordinary housewives do not take food without hearing its voice. This kokilavrata has put ordinary Indian women at par with the great poet. To hear the cuckoo’s sweet singing is the height of joy. The Lord has manifested Himself in the form of the cuckoo also.
A cuckoo is worthy of admiration; is a crow less so? I like it very much. Its voice may be shrill, still it has its own sweetness. How nice a crow looks when it arrives fluttering its wings! Little children are particularly attracted to it. A child does not like to take his food within the four walls of the house. You have to take him into the open yard and make him eat by turning his attention towards crows and sparrows. Is this attraction of a child for a crow a sign of craziness? No. Rather, it is a sign of wisdom. A child instantly identifies itself with the Lord manifested in the crow. A mother may otherwise try in many ways to persuade him to eat; the child remains stubborn. But he gets absorbed in observing the crow fluttering its wings, and eats unmindfully what the mother puts into his mouth. Aesop’s fables are based on the child’s curiosity about nature. Aesop saw the Lord everywhere. If I prepare a list of the books I like, Aesop’s Fables would be on the top of that list. Aesop’s world does not have human beings only; it also has foxes, dogs, hares, wolves, crows, tortoises etc. The whole creation speaks to Aesop. He has a divine vision. The Ramayana too is based on that vision. Tulsidas, while describing Rama’s childhood, has narrated a little incident. Rama, playing in the courtyard, tries to catch a crow nearby, but in vain. Then Rama hits upon an idea. He takes a piece of sweet in his hands and lures the crow. Tulsidas has written lines after lines describing such an ordinary incident. Why? Because the crow too is a form of the Lord. God that is in Rama is there in that crow too. The acquaintance between Rama and the crow is one between two manifestations of the Supreme Self.
54. Seeing God In Villains Too
To sum up, God is everywhere in the universe. As holy rivers, high mountains, serene oceans, tender-hearted cows, noble horses, majestic lions, sweet-voiced cuckoos, beautiful peacocks, clean and solitude-loving snakes, crows flapping their wings, the upward-rising flames, the still stars—He is pervading the whole creation in different forms. We should train our eyes to see Him everywhere, first in simple forms and then in the complex ones. We should first learn simple letters and then the complex ‘joint’ letters. Until we learn the ‘joint’ letters, there is no progress in reading. Unless we are able to see God manifest in crooked forms, our progress will be hampered. At every step, we shall come across the ‘joint’ letters. We shall come across crooked and evil forms every now and then. In the end, we must learn to see God in the villains too. God in Rama is readily acceptable, but we must also comprehend divinity in Ravana. God in Prahlad is readily acceptable, but we must also comprehend divinity in Hiranyakashipu7. The Veda has said, ‘नमो नमः स्तेनानां पतये नमो नमः....नमः पुंजिष्ठेभ्यो.....नमो निषादेभ्यः..... ब्रह्म दाशा ब्रह्म दासा, ब्रह्मैवेमे कितवाः’ ‘Salutation to the robber chieftain, salutations to the cruel and the violent. The robbers, the cruel, the swindlers, all are Brahman. Salutations to them all.’
What does this mean? This means that after mastering the small letters, we should master the capital letters; after mastering the simple, we should master the complex. Carlyle has written a book on hero-worship. Therein he has called Napoleon a hero. God in him is not in a pure form, there is a mixture; but we must discern Him there too. That is why Tulsidas has called Ravana ‘Rama’s devotee in opposition.’ Ravana too is a devotee, albeit of a different type. Fire burns and causes swelling in the burnt part of the body, but the swelling subsides after fomentation, that is, after using a different form of the same element. The same element thus does different things while it is in different forms. Rama and Ravana are manifestations of one and the only God, although appearances are different.
Gross and subtle, simple and complex, small letters and capital letters—learn everything and realise in the end that there is no place where the Lord is not present. He is present in every atom. He pervades the whole universe. The Lord who cares equally for all, who is full of knowledge and wisdom, love, compassion, power, beauty and holiness, is everywhere all around us.
The fearful form of the Lord, out to annihilate the whole world.
In Nagari script, alphabets are joined to form joint alphabets. Their form may change in the process. Therefore, they are more difficult to learn.
The mother of Pandavas and the aunt of Lord Krishna.
The snakes are worshipped on Nagpanchami, the fifth day in the month of Shravana.
Please refer footnote, Chapter 4.7
Ramtek, a place in central India is over 800 kms. from the river Krishna in south-western India. All this area was covered with dense forest in the time of the Ramayana.
Hiranyakashipu, the demon king, was the father of Prahlad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He tried to kill his own son for worshipping his arch-enemy, but failed in every attempt. Lord Vishnu finally killed him, assuming the form of Narasimha (the lion-man).