Sunday, May 6, 2012

How to recognize a true Saint- Part 1

In the last lecture (Importance and role of Guru)  it was explained that every individual, whether Indian, American, Chinese or Canadian, young, old, male or female, performs various actions only with the aim of attaining happiness.  The Vedas say that, even the most learned scholars cannot know God, because God is beyond human intellect.  Although the Vedas are filled with knowledge about God, nobody can understand the Vedas even after infinite lifetimes, as they are God's voice, and hence Divine.  
Therefore, Ved Vyas states: 
tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śhreya uttamam
śhābde pare cha niṣhṇātaṁ brahmaṇyupaśhamāśhrayaṁ (Bhagawat)
This means, "To know God, one has to surrender to a genuine spiritual master."  
The Geeta states:
tadviddhi praṇipātena paripraśhnena sevayā
"One who desires to attain the Divine knowledge of God, will have to surrender to a true Saint who has thorough knowledge of the scriptures and also has practical experience of God.  Question him with a sincere mind and serve him with dedication."
The Ramayan also says:
guru binu bhavanidhi taraī na koī
Hence, we understand that the Vedas and all the other scriptures together state that, without the guidance of a Guru, one cannot know God. 
So, how do we recognize a genuine Saint or a Mahapurush? 
It is very difficult for an ordinary person to determine whether a soul has attained God or not.  Because like God, a God-realized Saint can only be known by a Saint of the same level.  Just as God cannot be grasped by the material senses, the mind or the intellect, similarly, a Mahapurush cannot be identified by the same senses.  Nevertheless, a Saint has to be recognized by perception, interaction, and scriptural evidence, otherwise no one would have ever attained God until now.
In general, there are two types of Saints and two categories of 'fake' Saints that should be understood, before solving the problem of recognizing a Mahapurush.
1.   The first category of Saints is the one who have attained God, and they have complete knowledge of God.  Their behavior is simple and according to the notion of Saints.  Hence, it is easy to recognize them.  In other words, they appear to be same from outside as well as inside.
2.  The second category of Saints were Mahapurush from inside but appeared and acted as worldly persons from outside.  History bears evidence to the fact that most of the Saints belonged to this category.  Because, we usually judge others by external behavior, it becomes difficult to recognize such Saints.  It is the nature of Saints:
gopanīyaṁ gopanīyaṁ gopanīyaṁ prayatnataḥ
They hide their love, their true identity, and perform worldly actions called Leelas.
3.   Now, the first category of worldly people are those who are worldly from inside and perform worldly actions from outside.  These types of people are the most common in this world, and we do not get cheated by assuming that they are Mahapurush.  They can easily be identified.
4.   The second category of cheaters is one who is worldly from inside but acts like a Mahapurush from outside.  They give discourses on Vedas and Shastras, they dress up as Saints, and have disciples also.  It is extremely difficult to identify such cheaters because we normally judge persons by their external behavior.
So, now we have to understand the people who are true Saints or Mahapurush, and the ones who pretend to be saints.  Since we have not been able to identify these two types of personalities till today, we have not found a true Saint.  You may say that the one who is truly a Mahapurush, can never be worldly from outside.  It is a well-known truth that, after attaining perfect knowledge of God, one can never be overcome by Maya, lack of knowledge, and ignorance.  
But our history is filled with Saints who performed many worldly deeds.  We have had great Saints like Prahalad, Dhruv, Janak, and Ambrish who after God-realization, ruled for millions of years.  Hanuman and Arjun fought a war, killed crores of people but were experiencing the Divine Bliss of God from within while performing those actions.  It is a well-known truth that from the very moment a person attains God, he can never come under the clutches of Maya again.  The Vedas say:
sadā paśhyanti soorayaḥ tadviṣhṇoḥ paramaṁ padam
A Saint always experiences Divine Bliss eternally.  If that eternal Bliss, eternal knowledge is snatched away one day, why would one strive for it for many lifetimes?  Just like a grain of wheat or rice loses its power to germinate forever when roasted, similarly, after God-realization, one is liberated from Maya forever.
Historically, in spite of being beyond Maya, Saints acted as if they were under Maya. In Satyug, we have the example of the creator of universe, Lord Brahma.  He had four sons, who were eternally liberated souls. Once, they were on their way to Vaikunth.  At the entrance, they were stopped by the gatekeepers, Jai and Vijay.  The sons got angry and they cursed Jai and Vijay to turn into demons.  Just imagine, an eternally liberated soul is so absorbed in the Bliss of Brahm that he neither sees, hears, or thinks other than the self.  So, how come they saw Jai and Vijay and in spite of being beyond Maya, cursed them in anger?
We have now understood that to attain unlimited happiness, i.e. God, we have to first surrender ourselves to a Saint who has attained the Divine Bliss of God, and has complete knowledge of Him.  That means, we have to recognize a Shrotriya Brahmanishth Mahapurush (Shrotriya means one who has full and thorough knowledge of the scriptures; and Brahmanishth means one who has practical experience of God).  By surrendering to such a Guru, attaining our goal becomes easy.  But if we try to understand God merely through our intellect, we will not be able to know Him even in infinite lifetimes, because God is not a subject of the human intellect.  Thus, let us throw light on the entity called Mahapurush, or Guru, else our journey towards God cannot begin.
Earlier in our discussion about Mahapurush, we learnt that it is extremely difficult to recognize a true Saint because his external behavior is different from his internal personality, and our intellect only judges by observing external behavior.  We have had great Saints like Dhruv, Prahalad and Ambarish, who were beyond Maya from inside, but they performed worldly deeds.
In Satya Yuga, the four sons of the creator Lord Brahma who were eternally liberated souls and constantly realized Brahm everywhere, cursed the two gatekeepers of Lord Vishnu in anger.  Once a soul is liberated from Maya, no Mayic thought can enter that person's mind.  Then, how can a person who is liberated from material bondage and God-realized be overcome by anger?
In Ramayan, there is an episode where Lord Ram is in search for His wife Seeta in the jungle.  Parvati could not understand this.  She thought, "God is omnipresent, He experiences neither union nor separation from any one, and is ever Blissful by His own self.  He is neither sad nor happy by being separated or united with any one."
kabahooṁ yog viyog na jāke |
dekhā pragaṭ viraha duḥkha tāke ||
Again she says, "How is it possible for the formless and omnipresent God to take a personal form?"  Even a simple, uneducated person would not get this kind of doubt.  Everybody knows that the soul is formless, but takes a personal form (body) and keeps revolving within the 8.4 million forms of life.  Similarly, God, who created this universe by just smiling, can definitely take a personal form.  
So, to clear her misunderstanding, Parvati assumed the form of Seeta, in order to test Shree Ram.  However, the All- Knowing Lord Ram saw her and recognized her immediately.   He addressed Parvati in the form of Seeta "O Mother". 
Similarly, when Lord Ram was performing His leela of being bounded by the Naagpaash, or rope of snakes, His eternal servant, Garuda was watching the event.  He was confused and thought, "By just taking the very name of God, the individual soul becomes free from the bondage of material actions, deeds and relationships.  Then how can God Himself be bound by the ropes of a mere demon?"  
He then approached Kaag Bhushundi.  He said, "Maya has bewildered you.  It is not surprising.  Even great personalities like Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva come under the clutches of powerful Maya."
Now think about the Braj Gopis who are considered to be the supreme amongst all classes of Mahapurush.  Lord Brahma performed severe austerities for sixty thousand years to attain the dust of the lotus feet of the Gopis but was unable to attain it.  These Gopis are giving birth to children.  Arjun, even after attaining the knowledge of 'The Geeta' got infatuated with Naagkanya and had sons.  Arjuna and Hanuman, who felt the presence of God everywhere and at all times, killed people in war.
All examples above are of Saints who behaved like worldly people from outside, although they were, in fact, eternally liberated and ever-Blissful personalities.  An ordinary person who is under the influence of Maya can never understand the actions of these Saints.  He understands that a Mahapurush can perform only righteous deeds.  It is difficult for him to comprehend that  a Mahapurush can also perform unrighteous deeds without his mind getting absorbed in that action.  Saints do this with a power called Yogmaya.  We souls who are under Maya cannot understand the actions of Maya. 
In reality, a Mahapurush, or Saint, is a person who does no work whatsoever, either righteous or unrighteous.  Just as a seed gets destroyed with the appearance of a sprout, and flower with the emergence of fruit, in the same manner, after the attainment of God, a Saint is no longer in need of attaining anything, and becomes self-contented.
Continue reading in part 2

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