At the recent Lord Subramanium Festival in the UK, Mohanji gave a discourse about the purifying effect of Karma Sannyasa – desireless action in service to others. Swami Brahmananda talked about the power of Bhakti Yoga. Two enlightening messages for you… originally published on skandavale.org where you can also download the audio.
Reunion discourses from Swami Brahmananda & Mohanji
We have just celebrated our main event of the year – the Lord Subramanium festival, at which we were blessed with the presence of Mohanji. Swami Brahmananda and Mohanji both spoke about the purifying power of bhakti (devotion) and desireless action, in the service of others. We hope you enjoy these discourses.
Divine friends, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to this very auspicious day in Skanda Vale. It’s the culmination of our main festival, when we renew our mandate with the divine and refresh ourselves in the sense of purposefulness in our lives.
Today is a particularly auspicious day… particularly special because we have a very revered guest with us. Mohanji has come to join us, to celebrate this festival. The first time I met him yesterday it was like meeting an old friend.
All of us in the community had the grace to spend many years with Guru Sri Subramanium, so we are able to discriminate what the word Guru really means. Nowadays it’s used very loosely, and misused very often. But I’m very privileged to know that Mohanji is real Guru. And real gurus are a rare commodity. So we’re very blessed that the Lord has instructed him to come here, and he has brought a grace with him. I am very proud, and very happy that he’s able to come here and spend time with us in Skanda Vale.
I’d like to tell you a little bit about this festival, because many of you have only seen the very end part of it – the busy part. But a lot of hard work has taken place in the last 10 days which has created this vibration of grace which we enjoy now.
The Lord is depicted here with his two Shaktis – the male and female – Shiva and Shakti, embodied together as they should be. At the start of the festival the aspect of Shiva (the male aspect of the Lord) and the Shakti (the female, the creative aspect) are separated. And so we’ve conducted very elaborate pujas and celebrations of those two individual aspects, for the duration of this festival. That separation creates a tension. Because embodied in each and every one of you is also this combination of Shiva and Shakti.
Liberation, enlightenment… happiness for the human being is about that union of Shiva and Shakti. Embodied in you there’s Kundalini. That’s the female aspect of Shakti, latent within your own body, which is manifesting in different levels, in relation to your own evolution… to your own karma.
Our journey spiritually is the awakening of that Shakti embodied within us… to come on a journey of realisation, until the Shiva and Shakti are united in that vast realm of divine consciousness. That is Anandam. Bliss. The complete absence of any desire. The absolute fulfilment of our lives, and that is our aspiration.
Life is a joke! It’s a joke because the Lord has given you a body, and everything associated with that body; all the possessions that you surround yourself with, the friends, relations, family members… all are ultimately being transformed by the nature of time.
Time is also the manifestation of God. Very often it is overlooked. But God is time. And that nature of time overcomes everything. There is nothing that you can experience in the physical world that isn’t subject to dissolution, by the transforming aspect of Divine time. It would be a very cruel joke, but for the fact that the Lord has embodied himself in you. The experience we are taking from this festival is to learn to put all our eggs in the divine basket… so to speak.
It was a very beautiful thing to witness this procession of the Shiva and Shakti, coming here to be reunited. Because each and every person had a smile. Everyone was joyful. Where did that joy come from? It’s not related to anything in the world; that joyfulness came from deep within your own being. That joyfulness is your real nature. Your divine heritage.
We have a great task in our lives, and that task is one of transformation. This festival is an opportunity to look at our lives very honestly, and realise that we are here in the world wearing a body because we are imperfect. Because we haven’t yet discovered our divine identity.
The opportunity that we have is to forge ahead spiritually. To recognise that we are the people who have separated ourselves from Divinity, not that God has separated himself from us. He is infinitely patient. And infinitely forgiving… infinitely benevolent, giving us everything that we need to be successful spiritually.
The pressure and the tension that results from the separation of Shiva and Shakti has a great impact on the human being… bringing out of us all of the obstacles which are impeding the flow of Shakti, the kundalini, in the life of the human being. And those of you who have been here for the duration of the festival, will have experienced that.
You experience it as the manifestation of your own lower nature – selfishness, greed, jealousy, envy – very basic things. And if we’re honest with ourselves, all of us have some facet of these lower qualities within us. Our business is to transform those negative qualities, these negative emotional states, and transform them into something positive.
We have many tools at our disposal. In this day and age there are a lot of pressures in life. Simply surviving and providing for our families is a challenge in itself. And we are equipped with two very powerful tools to help us on this journey. One is bhakti – devotion. The power of bhakti means that inward expression of love.
First you must learn what love is in the world; loving your fellow human beings – your family and your friends, your relatives, every person you meet. As you go on that journey spiritually, that expression of love becomes an inward flow. And bhakti means turning that flow of love inside to reflect on your own divine nature. It is the most precious commodity that you can possess as a human being.
It’s very easy for that devotion, that bhakti, to be obscured by the qualities of our own minds. Simply singing bhajans, or chanting, or praying on its own is of no consequence without that empowering energy of bhakti, of devotion. Nurture that devotion within yourself.
Everything in your life is a vibration. Everything has associated with it a quality. And you have to protect that precious flame of devotion, that sense of loving God, of being united with God – you must nurture that flame of devotion within yourself, and not allow any vibration to interfere with it.
That’s a challenging task because the world is full of low vibrations. You must go into the world with your eyes open. Fully mindful. Because only when you’re aware of the vibrations around you, do you have a chance of discriminating between that which you wish to avoid in your life, and that which you wish to identify with. That is an individual task. No one is going to do it for you. But you are given intelligence, you are given discrimination, you are given the faculty of your senses for that purpose.
Divine friends, it is a duty and an obligation that we exercise mindfulness. From the moment that you wake up in the morning, to the moment you close your eyes at the end of a long day, you have a duty to be mindful. To register those vibrations around you, and protect that precious vibration of bhakti, of divinity, which is your link with God. To be nurtured, to be sustained – it will give you a lifeline in this crazy world.
Bhakti goes together with Karma yoga. Karma yoga means service. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to do service. That doesn’t mean looking after your family, or caring for your elderly relatives – that’s your duty. Karma yoga means fulfilling tasks which have no direct benefit to yourself. Where you have no vested interest other than to please God.
Look for those opportunities in your life, and you’ll find that every human being is the willing recipient of your love. When you go into the world with that love, you become the instrument of the divine. You transcend that limited idea that I am an individual person – that I’m separate from other human beings, then you begin to recognise that that I am not separate. We are one. We are all part of that nature of divine consciousness, and the purpose of our lives is to realise that.
It’s a very beautiful experience when we can worship the Lord and Devi in that consciousness of unity.
Thank you very much for your patience. Mohanji would you like to say a few words to these divine people?
Mohanji’s discourse on the purifying effect of Karma Yoga & Karma Sannyasa
Thank you Swamiji.
Whatever I speak now I surrender at the feet of Lord Muruga as flowers. Thank you for having me here. And it was indeed a divine presence, as well as an experience. No two ways about it.
I would like to take on from what Swami just said about karma yoga. Purification is extremely important in today’s world. And often we do not get time to purify ourselves. There is nothing better than karma yoga to purify ourselves. And if we can take one more step forward – when we surrender the action, and the fruits of action at the feet of the Lord, then it becomes karma sannyasa. That is renunciation. That purifies you like a rocket… in rocket speed! It really takes you to a different dimension within no time.
So I always tell people karma yoga is definitely the best way. And also try to surrender, without any expectation, if you can try to put all what you do at the feet of the God. Even the food you eat, the words you speak… or even your steps – everything is surrendered. It’s a constant thing. Objectivity at all times. And then the purification becomes almost immediate. And then it leads to bhakti.
Next step is devotion. Devotion flows from inside, we can’t create devotion – devotion is something which has to happen… just like life is happening. The moment we feel the devotion is happening then it takes over. You don’t have to do anything about it… just like the flow of activity we saw. It’s spontaneous and it flows, and then the dimensional changes happen.
As Swamiji was saying the movement of kundalini is spontaneous when the space is clean. The problem that we have is that we have too many expectations and desires, so sometimes it takes a long time to get through the expectations and desire – to evolve into the dimensional level – shift of awareness.
With practices, if you’re practising any path or sadhana practices – you can only take the energy up to here (third eye) and from here third eye on top it’s happening. So basically everything is happening – that means we have to surrender. Surrender should happen with awareness. So I always tell people if you want to invest in something in life, then invest in awareness. Because it always stays with you, and when you leave you leave with awareness.
So there is a story about bhakti, a story of devotion – a short story. There was a great saint many, many years ago who had a few disciples. So he wanted to test the commitment and the flavour of his disciples. So he said
“Through my practices, I have cleaned up most of my karmas. I have no sins at all connected to me, but I have a few things I want to clear in this life, so I don’t come back. I want to be liberated completely. So I’m going to wear a disease which is a very crippling disease, which is leprosy, and I will be based in Benares, in Kashi for 12 years. For 12 years I will be staying there I will exhaust the rest of my sins, and I will be free for liberation.”
So all the disciples heard this, and one disciple called Deepika came to him and said “Guruji can you transfer these sins to me? Let me suffer the disease and let me help you with cleansing it. So he said “Don’t you know the basics of karma? I can’t transfer it. What I do I have to also experience. Whatever I do, or whatever I commit, it comes to me.” So he said “I’m definitely going to Benares. If you like, you can come and serve me.”
The disciple said “I am coming to serve you”. He was the only disciple who decided to be with the Guru, the others were not so happy! [laughs]
As soon as he reached Benares, his whole body began to show signs of the disease – leprosy, the worst kind of disease. Overall it was very dirty – it was so bad. Deepika was wiping the blood, and all the things coming out of the body, he would clean, and Guru was in deep pain. All the time he was scolding the disciple, he was never happy with whatever he did, he was shouting and screaming and scolding the disciple.
And after cleaning or making the guru alright, he had to go out and beg for food and bring it to Guru, because they had no money. See, he would go out and he would beg for food, he would bring it to the Guru, and Guru would look at the food and say “Oh this is what you are bringing for me? This is… I can’t even let my dog eat it!” And he would throw it away.
So most days they were starving. This went on for a few days, and Kashi Benares is the place of Kashi Vishwanath – Shiva. Lord Shiva was watching this show for a long time, then he decided to appear in front of Deepika. And he said “I have never seen a disciple who is like you. You have been doing all this service to the Guru against all the abuses, all the bad things – you have full commitment, you are not affected. You have zero ego. So what blessing would you like to have from me?”
See it takes ages… years and years of tapas, penance to bring Shiva to you. Here, without any prayer, Shiva came to him. So he said “If I can have one blessing I would like my Guru to be healed. But before that, let me take his permission.” So he went to the Guru, and said “Shiva has come. Would you like to heal yourself?” [laughs]
Again he scolded! He said “You are not interested to treat me, or look after me, so you invited Shiva to come. I will not take any of those kind of steps.” You know… and he scolded him! So he went back to Shiva and said “Guru is very angry. Please… I don’t need any blessing of you. [laughs] Don’t give me any boons!”
So Shiva was disappointed. Then he told Maha Vishnu “In my place there is great bhakta, a great devotee, nobody can actually match his devotion – would you like to see him?” So Maha Vishnu came, and as soon as he saw Maha Vishnu he said “Please don’t give me any blessings! Because I have nothing to ask except the healing of my Guru, but he is very angry.” [laughs]
He said “Bhakta, I have never seen anybody like you, I would like to give you some blessing.” So he said “Please give me more bhakti, more devotion, if there is any flaw in me, may that be removed so that my devotion to my Guru becomes absolute.” So Maha Vishnu was happy – at least he could give him a blessing. He blessed him and he left.
So then he came back to the Guru, and the Guru asked “So Maha Vishnu also came to meet you? Now do you recognise that you have grown beyond me? You have become much higher than me. I have not materialised Shiva or Vishnu in my life, but because of your devotion to me, they came to you. See you are much higher than me, and you will have much more powers than me. You are the right disciple.
I told this story because today we are in a shopping spree to get some powers for ourselves. Actually, it is in shedding and removing that we get all the powers! [laughs] You know, it’s a simple thing, but I thought this was the message I could give you, because I saw the devotion here and it was overwhelming.
And once again, I’m so happy to be here. It is really my honour and my privilege, and my deepest appreciation for all that you are doing. And any time, anything I can do, it is at your disposal. Thank you. Thanks to all of you. [applause]