the dawn of inner revolution
Every festival gives us a reason to celebrate life. Festivals enliven and enrich our lives with exuberance of song, dance and music. Each festival however, also brings with it a reminder, an unspoken message to delve deeper within, to connect with the inherent source of all joy and bliss.
To mark the occasion of Makar Sankranti, there was a special discourse by Gurumaa on the 14th of January 2010 in the Ashram. Devotees thronged in the Sambuddha Sabhagar, the meditation hall to hear the beloved master’s message and to receive blessings on this auspicious day.
Little did we know about the relationship of planets with Makar Sankranti before Gurumaa explained that when the sun enters the makar rashi, the capricorn sign of the zodiac, it marks the beginning of the uttarayan period. According to scriptures, this time period is said to be the day cycle of the devatas. This is as opposed to the dakshinayan period, which is taken to be the night of the devatas. Here the term ‘devata’ means all godly influences which are at their highest peak in this period, and ‘daytime’ being the time associated with creativity. This period has a lot of significance for those on the spiritual path as universal positive forces are activated, making it a very auspicious beginning – spiritual practices like japa, tapa, daan, and anushthaan if performed during this period are said to reap greater benefit.
Drawing a comparative picture of the life-span of human beings over the ages, Gurumaa said that in sat yuga, an individual’s life-span was 1 lakh years. This got reduced to 50,000 years in dwapar yuga which further went down to 1,000 years in treta yuga. This age is kal yuga and the life-span here is approximately 120 years.
Cautioning us, Gurumaa pointed out that when we go against the law of nature, for example, eating more than needed, sleeping at odd hours, nature too goes against us. An undisciplined lifestyle, constant stress and self-abuse throw our hormonal system out of gear; our body then starts to rebel. The hormonal system is the master controller of other systems and therefore it is vital that this system functions optimally.
An average person cannot live simply in joy, gratitude and reverence. He himself complicates matters and then endures a lot of unnecessary suffering. His entire life is spent worrying about others, wondering what others are thinking about him. Caught up in the storms of turbulent passions, he is constantly thrown off-balance by insatiable desires. He daily encounters fear, anger and aversion which debilitate him further. Sadly, he does not realize that he can choose to be eternally free from this toxic emotional strangle-hold.
Gurumaa further drew attention to the fact that the darkness of mind is so insidious that to discriminate between what is true and what is false is almost impossible without the guidance of the Guru. Only truly fortunate one is graced by the presence of a Guru, an enlightened being in his life. It is the wisdom given by the Guru which pulls him out of the dark, bottomless abyss of ignorance into the dawn of wisdom. Without access to this wisdom, he continues to live in ignorance.
Reiterating the fallacy behind this illusionary world, Gurumaa narrated the story of a very rich person who was extremely attached to his family. He thought that they would always love him and wanted to test their love. However, he realised the bitter truth once he announced to his family that he was donating all his wealth to his master. They pronounced him crazy and wanted to put him in a lunatic asylum after forcibly taking his thumb impression on the necessary documents. This experience shook him up so much that he now understood and valued immensely what his Guru had earlier told him but had refused to believe – ‘that no one is yours, except the Lord’. He left everything behind and took refuge at the lotus feet of the Guru who had shown him the right path, the path to liberation.
Gurumaa encouraged all those present to do deep reflection (chintan) on what our mind really desires. If it is name, fame, money and worldly attainments, we should realize that not only are these temporary, but what is pleasurable today, will become the cause of pain tomorrow. Therefore, we need to cultivate right discrimination (viveka) as to who and what we wish our mind to be associated with.
Giving a very appropriate example, Gurumaa said that generally when a young man or woman contemplates marriage, they are never able to visualize the other side of it. They never even think that there could be pain involved as well. Their vision becomes selective, almost myopic, based only on sensual attraction, desires and passions.
Elucidating upon the origin and nature of the mind, Gurumaa made it clear that mind has sprung from ignorance and it is sustained by ignorance only. For all the twenty-four hours of the day, we only think about others – son, daughter, wife, husband, family, relatives but never give a thought to the fact as to ‘where are we heading?’, ‘where will we end up without knowledge of Self?’, and ‘how can we find the answer to the all-important question i.e. Who am I?’.
It is mentioned in the scriptures (shastras) about Makar Sankranti that it is a time of introspection, to awaken godliness within one’s own self. It is a time to cultivate an inner balance, a sensitivity and sensibility to bring harmony into our life. The more detached we can remain towards the drama of life happening in and around us, the happier and more fulfilled we will be. It is not a crime to have name, fame, money and worldly possessions but we need not become their slaves. We have to use them wisely – they should not use us!
Gurumaa strongly pointed out the fact that these days, many children of wealthy parents are falling prey to drug-abuse. Nevertheless, college girls are being raped in wild parties but since they are knocked out senseless with the drug, they have no idea who the culprit is. What is the use of such wealth? Does it bring joy or misery? If ignorance is rampant, then even if one is wealthy, he will suffer and even if one is a pauper, he will still suffer.
Only satsang can bring us out of the morass of this blinding ignorance. We take it casually and do not realise that it is literally a matter of urgency for us that we shake ourselves up and wake up from the death-like stupor of inertia and lethargy.
In this context, Gurumaa presented a very grave matter. If life is lived in ignorance and self-abuse, successive lives gifted to us become shorter and shorter, since we do not know how to utilise this priceless gift. In the Bhavishya Purana, it is mentioned that towards the last part of this present age, kal yuga, human beings will have degenerated to such an extent that a six year old girl will become a mother and a nine year old girl will become a grandmother, a shocking revelation indeed!
Therefore, we need to realise that things have their utility only up to a certain point, not beyond that. Illustrating this, Gurumaa gave the example of Kamali, Kabir’s son, who had retired to the forest in order to go deeper into spiritual practices. A king went to meet him there and gifted him a huge diamond. A week later, when the king out of curiosity and avarice went again to meet Kamali and to check what had happened to his gift, he saw the diamond lying at the very same spot, untouched.
Sharing a recent meeting with a sage, Gurumaa narrated that as per tradition, when flowers, fruits, clothes and other items were gifted to him, the sage greeted Gurumaa with great love but admonished, “What is all this clutter you have brought? Where was the need for all this?”. Another sage whom Gurumaa met after nearly twenty-eight years shared a different perspective when he asked, “Why have you brought all this? You are my daughter and when a daughter visits her father, she is not supposed to bring gifts; she is supposed to take back gifts with her! ”.
Gurumaa very humbly and feelingly questioned that what can we put in front of these Mahatmas? They are emperors; what can we possibly offer them?
If we could only keep as much as we need, we would literally feel lighter – physically, mentally and spiritually too! Then it will be the Lord who will become our priority and not the world. As the mystic Meera lovingly sings in her bhajans – “Loving the Lord is not a religious formality or obligation for me. It is a matter of life and death. Who am I? How can I live without love? How can I die without wisdom? ”.
Makar Sankranti is therefore a most auspicious time for performing charity, austerities and focusing more on one’s sadhana – spiritual practice. The beautiful name of this festival has a deep significance – ‘san’ meaning together with the Guru and ‘kranti’ meaning revolution. On this day, people generally take a dip in holy rivers to purify themselves, but ‘Sankranti’ is actually the inner revolution which takes birth and blossoms in continued association with an enlightened being. It is the resolution to wake up from the deep sleep of ignorance, from the dream-like existence of the false ego and awaken to the clear vision of Truth. It is opening the eyes of mind and adorning it with the collyrium stick of wisdom.
As the mystic Kabir has sung,
“Man ki aankhein khol, baba, man ki aankhein khol,”
It means doing efforts (purushartha), to uplift oneself as per the guidelines given by the Guru. It is transcending dualities associated with the body – pleasure/pain, joy/sorrow, profit/loss, and praise/blame. It implies having equanimity under any and all circumstances – in life and in death too.
Towards the end, a seeker asked a pertinent question, “What is the Guru-tattva, the essence of Guru?” Elucidating in detail, Gurumaa said that the one who has realized the abstract, formless all-pervasive existence is Guru. The word ‘Guru’ comes from the root ‘gu’ – meaning darkness and ‘ru’ meaning light. Guru embodies the one who extinguishes the disciple’s ignorance forever by igniting the torch of wisdom in him.
Answering to another question by a seeker who said that he always wondered what others were thinking about him. Gurumaa explained that this was a general dilemma, not only his! A mind which experiences incompletion wants approval all the time. We want others to always speak well of us, and we remain concerned that others should not get upset. We are always dancing to others’ tunes and want to make others dance to our tune too. The mind is busy playing these games all the time!
Therefore, a seeker should have sankalpa shakti, determined resolve to come out of all these ego-trips. This, along with the powerful force of the Guru’s grace alone can establish him forever in atmagyana, the knowledge of self.