Spiritual Discourses: The devotee of the Lord
Spirituality: The devotee of the Lord
By Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati*
Yo madbhaktah, sa me priyah – Lord Krishna says Yo madbhaktah, this bhakta, my devotee who is like this, sa me priyah, is dear to me. We will talk about the bhakta, the devotee of the Lord. The discussion, which occurs in as many as six chapters of Bhagavad Gita from Chapter 7 to Chapter 12, will also involve the Lord (Bhagavan) to whom the bhakta is devoted, and the bhakti, devotion. They are all connected.
Basically what Lord Krishna reveals is that “I am your own self”. He is not away from us, not other than us. He is our own self. Not the self that we think we are, that is not Bhagavan, not Isvara the Lord, but the way we truly are. Vedanta gives us the example of the rope snake. What is in front of me is a piece of rope and I think it’s a snake. The object is not what I take it to be. That example applies also to our own self. We are different from what we take ourselves to be.
If Lord Krishna says “I am closer than the closest” as our own self, then why do we not know Him? Naham prakasa sarvasya yoga maya samavrttah – very well veiled, hidden, by my yoga maya, I am not evident to anybody. I am not recognized as I am by anybody, with some exceptions, very well veiled by my yoga maya. I am so close and yet people do not recognize me because their sights are always elsewhere. In this universe there is nothing other than myself; nothing is superior or inferior to myself. Whatever is, is myself. Not only ourselves, but everything that we encounter is the Lord. Subject, object, whatever is, is Isvara. Then why do we not recognize him?
Lord Krishna says that because I am veiled, covered by my maya, I manifest myself in certain costumes. In this universe, sattva, rajas and tamas qualities make for three types of entities or names and forms. Sattva is something very dear that we like, something pleasant, tranquil, and peaceful which makes us feel happy and satisfied. Rajas is dominant when we find that our mind is agitated, restless, active, desiring, wanting, lacking, or ambitious. Storms, floods and all kinds of disturbances can occur. Tamas is dominant when there is inertia. I find myself dull, inactive, not motivated, not inspired, not wanting to do anything, and not interested in anything so that nothing motivates me.
So sometimes we find ourselves with sattvic qualities, sometimes rajasic qualities, sometimes tamasic qualities. Thus, Vedanta says that this universe is made up of these three gunas: sattva rajas and tamas. This applies to our personalities also. We have this gross body primarily made of tamas quality. We are also active people and powering these actions we have prana, the vital air, in our personality. Then we have the organs of perception backed by the mind made up of sattva with which we gain knowledge of the world. Lord Krishna says, “Understand that all of them are from Me. It is I alone who is manifest in the universe with these three-fold costumes of sattva, rajas, and tamas. My personality is made up of sattva, rajas and tamas. You also. Nature also.”
So who am I? Lord Krishna says that what you experience is superficial, like costumes to an actor. We see only the costumes. Sometimes we feel frustrated, that there should be an answer as to why all this? Whenever we think we have found the answer like the God particle etc., then some more questions will arise. It’s a very beautiful thing. Either you can feel frustrated because you don’t have the answer or you can enjoy that there need not be an answer. Lord Krishna says “I have this costume of Maya, because of which I appear to be different from what I truly am”. In all the costumes you are there. There are many names, but you are one.
The bhakti is one whose whole life centres on Bhagavan. Why is devotion important? Why is God important? Because truly recognizing Him is the agenda with which we have been born. We have been sent here with a certain task, a certain problem to solve. Therefore recognizing what is becomes very important. “The wise person recognizes me”, says Lord Krishna. What is the Lord? So this is our goal. This is our task. It is like a test that is given to us. You have to clear this test. “Swami, I am not interested.” But unfortunately, there is no choice. We have to clear this test because we are born with certain desires. We have lots of ambitions, and desires, within ourselves. We want to be happy in our lives. We want to be successful in our lives. Nobody can say, Swamiji I don’t mind not being happy. I need not be happy. I need not be successful. I don’t mind being sad. I don’t mind being sorrowful. If somebody can say that, it would be nice, then he is free. But nobody can accept it.
So we are born with an attachment to our desire for happiness. We cannot accept ourselves to be unhappy. Then we have to learn how to be happy. “I know how to be happy, Swamiji. I have surrounded myself with all kinds of things. I go to my Facebook. I get bored with that then I go to WhatsApp. Then I go to Twitter. Then I go to a movie. Then I go to a restaurant. Then I go for a game. So many distractions are there, Swamiji. I know how to make myself happy. I don’t need anything else to become happy.” All of these can make us happy, no doubt about it, for some 7me. Our mind being what it is, we ask what next? We want something else. iPhone 1 is exciting. Phone 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8…, each comes with new features and people are eagerly waiting. “I just bought iPhone 7 a year ago and now I want a new one.” Manufacturers know this. They know how to make people spend money and they earn it at our cost. Our attempts to become happy seem to create a hunger for more happiness, a hunger for variety and do not seem to lead us anywhere. Otherwise, why should you come here? If the answer to our search for happiness were elsewhere, which most people believe, you would not be here.
To be continued…