A true Guru will never tell you to tread his path blindly, instead he’ll encourage you to find your own. He’s gentle like the flowing river, warm like the winter sun, bright like the full moon, rejuvenating like the summer rain. ~ Om Swami
This is my prayer to thee, my lord – strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my loss and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.
The auspicious day of Guru Purnima was reverently and lovingly welcomed by disciples and devotees alike. Joy, laughter, and smiles marked the celebrations. The rains endowed the tranquil and serene Badrika Ashram with fresh, spectacular beauty and the mood was festive and jubilant. Beautifully artistic rangoli and auspicious kolam patterns adorned the temple entrance.
Abhishekam was offered to the radiant, resplendent vigraha of Sri Hari and Swamiji’s sacred padukas were worshipped and venerated with flowers.
Amidst the chanting of the ‘Guru Stotra Paduka’, the ceremony was performed by all sanyasis and brahmacharis, followed by the residents. The air was redolent with devotion and gratitude.
A sense of surrender and peace engulfed the temple, as the paduka poojan came to an end with the distribution of prasadam by the disciples.
The resident disciples and sannyasins donned aprons over their robes and cooked up a delicious and mouth-watering prasadam which included a seven layered biryani! An atmosphere of devotional camaraderie reigned over the kitchen.
Swamiji’s address on Zoom, that evening was impatiently awaited by all devotees across the globe. Quoting liberally from Rabindranath Tagore’s book, ‘Gitanjali’, he answered all the questions with his usual candour.
“What is spirituality and spiritual life in its purest form?” asked a devotee.
Answering the question at length, Swamiji compared the universe to a giant recycling plant. He said that if a person wants abundance then he should share in abundance. If you want something to grow then learn to part with it. Being the source of intentional grief to other souls on the planet, will surely result in unhappiness for yourself. To understand spirituality in its purest sense, one must accept the truth that there is no escape from the basic karmic law that it all comes back to you in some way, shape, or form. This is the bedrock of the purest spiritual life.
The scriptures, he said, talk about shadripu – the six enemies of spiritual consciousness; namely Kaam – desire, Krodha – anger, Lobha – avarice, Moha – delusion, Ahamkara – pride and Matsara – jealousy. The virtues of surrender, truthfulness, coexistence, love, compassion, and empathy are the antidotes and must be inculcated to counter the effects of the shadripu.
Swamiji asked a very critical question to everyone; he said, “How do you wish to utilise the time you have on the planet and what are you planning to use it for?”
He said that it was simply a matter of choosing correctly. “Do you wish to spend your life scheming, plotting, being angry, hurt or worrying about everything, or spend it in a manner that helps you progress on the path?
When making any decisions in life, we simply have to ask ourselves – Am I going by the values that help me progress, or am I strengthening the enemies of my consciousness within me?
Quoting Rabindranath Tagore again, he said…
Let only that little be left of me whereby I may name thee my all.
Let only that little be left of my will whereby I may feel
thee on every side, and come to thee in everything, and offer to thee my love every moment.
Let only that little be left of me whereby I may never hide thee.
Let only that little of my fetters be left whereby I am bound with thy will, and thy purpose is
carried out in my life – and that is the fetter of thy love.
Elaborating on his answer, Swamiji said, “If you come to a moment in your life where you have some kind of a fetter then let it be the fetter of divine love.” Highlighting the importance of the virtue of surrender, he said that “without surrender true spirituality is just not possible.” He said, “On the occasion of Guru Purnima I would say that this surrender is what truly signifies a true guru-disciple relationship.” He further added, “If you ever feel that I can’t follow or surrender to this person then I think you must feel free to move on with your life and take on somebody else as your guru or be your own guru.”
With his characteristic humour, Swamiji joked that asking for initiation is similar to making a commitment to the beloved in the initial stage of falling in love. Till one doesn’t make a commitment, one can back out anytime; until then you haven’t lost anything.
Kal Bichhadna Hai toh phir ehd-e-vafa Soch ke Baandh,
Abhi aghaz-e-mohabbat hai Gaya kuchh bhi nahi.
Main toh iss vaste chup hoon ki Tamasha na bane,
Tu samajhta hai mujhe tujhse gila kuch bhi nahi.
(If we have to separate in the future, think hard before you pledge your fidelity. This is just the beginning of our love; we both don’t have much to lose. I am silent because I don’t want to create a scene. You are aware that I am not reproachful of you if you choose to back out.)
Swamiji concluded the discourse by saying –
- He has always liked the idea that one day the disciple graduates and no longer needs his Guru like he did in the past.
- It means that the disciple has really imbibed and understood the teachings of his Guru and has an appreciation of the Guru’s place in his life.
- It means that now the disciple is able to take the responsibility and carry the torch forward.
- If the onus is always on the Guru, you remain disciples forever. Then when will you help the world? When will you go out and make a difference to your own life and the lives of people around you?
- Not everybody will do it, but I think some of you will take on that responsibility which need not just be giving talks and discourses. It will be done by the sheer power of your conduct, the truth, the light, the love, and the beauty that you carry within you.
The hauntingly poignant poem from Gitanjali by Tagore summed up Swamiji’s loving message to everyone and brought the beautiful and warm virtual meeting to an end…
I am like a remnant of a cloud of autumn
uselessly roaming in the sky,
O my sun ever – glorious!
Thy touch has not yet melted my vapour,
making me one with thy light,
and thus I count months and years separated from thee.
If this be thy wish and if this be thy play,
then take this fleeting emptiness of mine,
paint it with colours, gild it with gold,
float it on the wanton wind and spread it in varied wonders.
And again, when it shall be thy wish to end this play at night,
I shall melt and vanish away in the dark,
or it maybe in a smile of the white morning,
in the coolness of purity transparent.
“I think that (surrender) is the ultimate in devotion. In surrender, in truth, you become the one you wish to merge with. Duality disappears. You become the one you once admired and looked up to. You become the same entity and merge so seamlessly, so effortlessly at that point in time that you can then truly say, “Yes, I am a disciple!” ~ Om Swami