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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON SPIRITUALITY

Most of the questions and answers here have been taken from our holy Master, Sri Swami Sivananda's book, MAY I ANSWER THAT?. Click here to download the book. This book has 272 questions and answers.


  1. What is God ?
  2. Why should we believe in God ?
  3. What is the harm in not believing in God's existence ?
  4. Why did so many religions come into existence in this world ?
  5. Why do different prophets give contradictory teachings ?
  6. I am in something of a dilemma due to the fact that I do not know what my aim in life is to be. I have been told that if I know this, I will find it easier to meditate. Could you tell me how to discover the answer to this ?
  7. Politics has become the God of the day and is more so in India. Religion has come to be regarded as a superfluous thing. How then is it possible to make everyone believe in God and religion ?
  8. Give me a very simple, but very impressive proof for the existence of the soul.
  9. If God is beyond the reach of the senses, He should be a non-entity, a mere void, a negative concept, a metaphysical abstraction. Something beyond the senses ? How could this be ? I cannot believe such things. I am a scientist. I want accurate laboratory proofs.
  10. What is the need to attain Moksha (liberation), Swamiji ?
  11. Can a man not lead a good, virtuous life, be charitable, truthful and noble, work for the welfare of the community and die a good man, without aspiring for anything beyond this life ?
  12. Is there such a thing as rebirth ?
  13. Why do we not remember our past lives ?
  14. It has been said against reincarnation that there are more people now in comparison with the past world population.
  15. What is Karma ?
  16. A man doing a wrong thing argues that he is doing it because of his Karma; and he does not even try not to do it, because it gives him immediate happiness. How to impress upon him not to do it ?
  17. How to free ourselves from Karma, Swamiji ?
  18. What is Yoga ?
  19. What is Maya ?
  20. The following questions share a common explanation.
    When and why has God created the world ?
    Why were we created and put to this miserable and pitiable plight ?
    How did Avidya (ignorance) arise in us ?
    When did Karma begin ?
    How could Avidya (ignorance) or Maya exist in the Supreme Absolute Light ?
    Why did the formless assume forms ?
    Why is there evil in this world ?
  21. On what grounds do you prohibit meat-eating ?
  22. Should it not be considered as Himsa (injury) when we cut vegetables and fruits ?
  23. How is it possible that a Creator, so full of love, created a world and a nature where animals can live only by killing other animals that have to endure terrible pain and suffering ? Nobody can give me a satisfactory answer.
    If men kill each other, it is sin; they need not. But, animals cannot live without killing the other animals for food. What do you say ? We are anxious for your opinion.

  24. Are the senses meant to be starved and destroyed ? The ascetic ideal says so. The Greek ideal, however, is moderate enjoyment of life. Most of the Western thinkers of the rationalistic type accept this. Modern psychologists assert that by denying or refusing the needs of the body such as food and sex and suppressing emotions like attachment and love, people generally create mental problems for themselves. Is there any substance in this ?
  25. Some philosophers lay great emphasis on reason and rational living. What have you to say ?
  26. How to put a permanent end to all doubts and questions ?

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Last Updated: Tue May 21, 1996
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What is God ?

If I give you a good slap on your face, who knows that slap ? That knower (Vetta), that knowing subject, is God. When a strong desire is satisfied or gratified, that blissful state wherein the mind finds rest is God. That which sparkles or glitters in your eyes is God. That which prompts you to think is God, the Lord of the mind. The source (yoni) or support (Adhishthan) for your mind, Prana (vital energy), senses and body is God.

The tree exists. It shines. It gives delight. These three aspects, existence, shining, delight - Asti-Bhati-Priya or Sat-Chit-Ananda - is God. God is truth. God is love. God is beauty. God is Ananda. God is Light of lights. God is Mind of minds, Prana of Pranas, Soul of souls. That shines in your heart and that is inseparable from you. Feel His presence always. Recognize His presence always, everywhere. Carry His presence when you walk.


Why should we believe in God ?

Belief in God is an indispensable requisite for every human being. It is a sine qua non. Owing to the force of Avidya or ignorance, pain appears as pleasure. The world is full of miseries, troubles, difficulties and tribulations. The world is a ball of fire. The Antahkarana (mind, intellect, ego and the subconscious mind) charged with Raga (attachment), Dvesha (hatred), anger and jealousy is a blazing furnace. We have to free ourselves from birth, death, old age, disease and grief. This can be done only by faith in God. There is no other way. Money and power cannot give us real happiness. Even if we exercise suzerainty over the whole world, we cannot be free from care, worry, anxiety, fear, disappointment, etc. It is only faith in God and the consequent God-realization through meditation that can give us real, eternal happiness and free us from all kinds of fear and worries which torment us at every moment. Faith in God will force us to think of Him constantly and to meditate on Him and will eventually lead us on to God-realization.


What is the harm in not believing in God's existence ?

If we have no faith in God, we will be born again in this world and will undergo considerable miseries. The ignorant, faithless doubting self goes to destruction. He cannot enjoy the least happiness. Neither this world nor that beyond is there for the doubting self. Those who have no faith in God do not know what is right and what is wrong. They have lost the power of discrimination. They are untruthful, proud and egoistic. They are given to excessive greed, wrath and lust. They hoard up money by unlawful means. They become men of demoniacal nature. They commit various sorts of atrocious crimes. They have no ideals for their lives. They are thrown into demoniacal wombs. They sink into the lowest depths, deluded birth after birth.

Some one hundred and fifty years ago there lived a very famous Yogi-jnani (a self-realized saint) by name Sadasiva Brahmendra Sarasvati in Nerur, near Karur, in the district of Tiruchirapalli in South India. He is the author of Brahma Sutra Vritti and Atma Vidya Vidalasa and various other books. He has done innumerable miracles. Once when he was absorbed in Samadhi (superconscious state) on the banks of the Cauvery, he was carried away by the flood and thrown somewhere else. He was deeply buried underneath the sand. Labourers went to plough the fields. They hit against the head of the Yogi and some blood oozed out. They dug out, and to their astonishment, they found a Yogi seated in Samadhi.

On another occasion, as an Avadhuta, Sadasiva Brahmendra entered the Zenana (tent) of a Mohammedan chief naked. The chief was quite enraged at the sage. He cut off one of the arms of the Mahatma (saint). Sadasiva Brahman walked away without uttering a word and without showing any sign of pain. The chief was greatly astonished at this strange condition of the sage. He thought that this man must be a Mahatma, a superhuman being. He repented much and followed the sage to apologize. Sadasiva never knew that his arm was cut off. When the chief narrated to the sage what had happened in the camp, Sadasiva excused the chief and simply touched his maimed arm. Sadasiva Brahman had a fresh arm. It is the life of this sage that made a very deep impression in my mind. I came to a very definite conclusion that there is a sublime divine life independent of objects and the play of the mind and the sense. The sage was quite unconscious of the world. He did not feel a bit when his arm was cut off. He ought to have been absorbed in the Divine Consciousness, he ought to have been one with the Divine. Ordinary people yell out when there is even a pin-prick in their bodies. When I heard of the marvellous incident in the life of Sage Sadasiva from Apta (realized) persons and when I read in the book, it gave me a very strong conviction about the Divine Existence and a divine eternal life where all sorrows melt, where all desires are satisfied and one gets supreme bliss, supreme peace and supreme knowledge.


Why did so many different religions come into existence in this world ?

Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam are the six great religions of the world. There is no founder for Hinduism. All the other religions have their founders. They are named after the name of the founder (except Islam). Jainism is only another form of Buddhism. Sikhism is based chiefly on Hinduism and partly on Islam. Brahmoism is born of Hinduism and Christianity and so on with other minor religions.

Whenever any important truth of religion was suppressed by the arrogance and selfishness of the priestly class or forgotten through the ignorance of the people, there appeared a great Saint or Prophet or Religious Teacher. He emphasized that truth, removed the dross which had concealed or obscured it and made it shine in its original brilliance, purity, splendour and glory.

In this way every new religion was only an endeavour to reform the older religion as it then existed and a protest against its abuses.

When in olden times people forgot all about the Vedic monotheism (Hinduism), there arose Zoroaster. He preached the worship of one God, Ahura Mazda, and condemned the worship of Devas (gods).

When the religion of the Vedas (Hinduism) degenerated into a blind observance of rites and sacrifices of animals, when the Sudras (servants) were treated with contempt by the Brahmins (priests), there appeared the compassionate Buddha, who stopped killing of animals and raised the status of Sudras.

When the priests of Judaism became arrogant, there arose Jesus to purify Judaism. When Christianity had also degenerated into idolatry and superstition, there appeared Mohammed to preach his monotheism.

When Hinduism degenerated on account of creeping in of superstitious beliefs and false worship, various reformers appeared to purge Hinduism of its superstitions and wrong beliefs and observances.

Sri Sankara appeared to remove wrong beliefs and abuses in Buddhism and Jainism and established Kevala Advaita or absolute monism. Sri Ramanuja appeared to teach Bhakti and make people practice devotion and realize God while remaining in the world.

If the people became cruel, a teacher like Buddha appears to preach Ahimsa or non-injury. If they become timid, another teacher like Guru Govind Singh comes to infuse courage in them. If they become inclined towards rigorous Tapas (austerities), a teacher like Ramanuja comes and preaches "Realize while enjoying in the world".

Thus all great religious teachers were original reformers. They tried to improve the existing religions and to do good in their own way to suit the time and condition in which they were born.


Why do different prophets give contradictory teachings ?

Prophets are born from time to time to remove a catastrophe and establish Dharma (righteousness). They preach according to the time, place, conditions and requirements. Lord Buddha preach, "Don't kill". Guru Govind Singh preached, "Kill". When Buddha was born, people were sacrificing many animals. He had to preach Ahimsa (non-violence) to stop killing. Guru Govind Singh had to infuse chivalry in man. One prophet preached, "Renounce and go to the forest". Sri Ramanuja preached, "Enjoy at home. Have no attachment. Worship Vishnu". The teachings are not contradictory in reality. They are needed to suit the occasion, time and nature of men.


I am in something of a dilemma due to the fact that I do not know what my aim in life is to be. I have been told that if I know this, I will find it easier to meditate. Could you tell me how to discover the answer to this ?

The aim of life is God-realization. To become one with Jesus is the goal of life. To transmute the brutal instincts and to become divine is the goal of life. If you control anger, eradicate selfishness and develop tolerance, compassion, selflessness, generosity, courage, forgiveness, you will become divine. Is selfishness good ? No. So become selfless. Is greediness good ? Is anger good ? Is vanity good ? These form the lower nature of man. So remove these and become selfless, generous, patient, tolerant, pure and humble. This is the goal.


Politics has become the God of the day and is more so in India. Religion has come to be regarded as a superfluous thing. How then is it possible to make everyone believe in God and religion ?

It is wrong to regard that politics has got precedence over religion. In personal life, the majority of mankind does believe in God; and in India, there is an undercurrent of religion throughout the land. Politics is only a surface activity thrust upon most people due to socio-economic forces.

When one gets knocks and blows, when he gets disgusted with the sensual objects on account of their impermanency, when he gets experience and discrimination and dispassion, his mind will be turned towards God. Now he becomes susceptible to religious influence; and the company of good men and spiritual books make him religious. Till then there is no use of forcing religion on this man.


Give me a very simple, but very impressive proof for the existence of the soul.

You say in daily life, "My body", "My Prana (energy)", "My mind", "My Indriya (senses)". This clearly denotes that the Self or Atman is entirely different from the body, the mind, the Prana and the Indriyas. The mind and the body are your servants or instruments. They are as much outside of you as these towels, chairs, cups are. You are holding the body just as you are holding a long walking stick in your hand. You are the possessor or proprietor of this body. The body is your property or possession. The body, the senses, the mind, the, etc., are not the soul, but belong to it.


If God is beyond the reach of the senses, He should be a non-entity, a mere void, a negative concept, a metaphysical abstraction. Something beyond the senses ? How could this be ? I cannot believe such things. I am a scientist. I want accurate laboratory proofs.

You want laboratory proofs ? Very fine indeed ! You wish to limit the illimitable all-pervading God in your test-tube, blowpipe and chemicals. God is the source for your chemicals. He is the substratum for your atoms, electrons and molecules. Without Him no atom or electron will move. He is the Inner Ruler (Antaryamin). He is the Niyanta. Without Him the fire cannot burn, the sun cannot shine, the air cannot move. Without Him you cannot see, cannot talk, cannot hear, cannot think. He is the maker of all scientific laws, the law of gravitation, the law of cohesion, the law of attraction and repulsion, etc. He is the law-giver. Bow to Him with faith and devotion. You will have a thorough knowledge of the Science of sciences, Brahma Vidya (the science of the Self), through His grace and you will attain Moksha (liberation).


What is the need to attain Moksha (liberation), Swamiji ?

To understand this, you should resort to Satsang (association with the wise) and study of scriptures. An intellect that is clouded by all sorts of desires and evil Samskaras (impressions) will not be able to grasp even the need for Moksha. Such an intellect is Asuric (devilish). Read the Gita. Attend Satsang. Listen to the discourses of saints and Sannyasins (renunciates). Then Viveka (discrimination) will arise in you. You will understand that this world is full of pain and sorrow. The bungalow, the motor-car, the little position and the small salary that you are having now will not then satisfy you. Your aspirations will grow. You will want to liberate yourself.

What great labour goes into the preparation of the microscope lens ? After a lot of grinding only you are able to peep into the beyond. Similarly, after a lot of study and Satsang only will your intellect even think of the Beyond.


Can a man not lead a good, virtuous life, be charitable, truthful and noble, work for the welfare of the community and die a good man, without aspiring for anything beyond this life ?

If you lead a virtuous life and die, you will die as a good man, not as a saint. You will not attain Moksha (liberation).

You have hundreds of good men. But, how many saints have you got ? Even real aspirants are rare in the world now. Even in you category of "good men", there are grades. How many good men have you got of Gandhiji's type ?

What do your good men do ? They may be truthful and noble; they may be charitable and pious. But, even they will be selfish at the core. They will hoard wealth and look after their own wife and children. Will they feel that all children are theirs ? When they bring sweetmeats from the bazaar, will they give to other people's children first ? No, no. Because they have no knowledge of the truth that the One Self dwells in all beings. Unless this understanding of the Truth dawns on them, unless they meditate upon this Supreme Reality and strive to realize It, how can they develop renunciation and the true spirit of selfless service ?

To be a good man is no doubt a better ideal than to be merely a human animal, full of vicious qualities. But it is only a means to an end; it is only a step nearer the goal, not the end or the goal itself. The goal is Self-realization or Moksha. In order to achieve that, you must be good and do good; and you must do more - you must cultivate discrimination, dispassion and a correct attitude to life; you must meditate, do Japa (remembrance of the Lord's name) and Kirtan (singing devotional songs), study scriptures. Then, by the grace of God, you will attain the goal!


Is there such a thing as rebirth ?

Yes, undoubtedly there is rebirth.

First of all, you have several miraculous instances of young boys and girls suddenly exhibiting great knowledge. A young girl, who has never studied any book, recites the Bhagavad-Gita. How do you account for it except that she had mastered the Gita in her previous birth, and that by the grace of the Lord, that knowledge has come to the conscious part of her mind in this birth too ?

Further, rebirth is a necessity for the soul's evolution. Perfection cannot be achieved in one birth. Even to develop some cardinal virtues it might take several births. If you wish to attain Self-realization, you have to achieve perfection in all the virtues. You have to achieve perfect self-purification. So, rebirth is a necessity for the Jiva's (individual soul's) evolution.

Have you seen the caterpillar moving from one leaf to another ? It will reach the edge of one leaf; then project itself; it will catch hold of another leaf, and then only will it entirely leave the first leaf. The Jiva, too, goes about like this. Even before it leaves one body, it has made another (gross or subtle) body according to its Karmas and desires; and it enters this new body with all the Samskaras (impressions) and Vasanas (desires).


Why do we not remember our past lives ?

Such remembrance under our existing limitations would considerably complicate our present life. Therefore, the wise and beneficent Lord has so ordered our mental evolution that we cannot recall our past lives until such time as it is good and helpful for us to remember. Such instances may well form a cycle which is all clear to us when we come to the end of it, when we see a whole rosary of lives threaded upon the one personality.


It has been said against reincarnation that there are more people now in comparison with the past world population.

It is not necessary that the same persons are reborn into this earth and none else. In the process of evolution into human life, many from lower births also come up to the human level. All these are controlled by superhuman powers or by the Divinity, God or Isvara Himself. Further, rebirth need not necessarily be on this earth plane alone. It can take place anywhere in the universe.


What is Karma ?

Karma is a Sanskrit term. It means action or deed. Any physical or mental action is Karma. Thinking is mental Karma. Karma is the sum total of our acts, both in the present life and in the preceding births.

Karma means not only action, but also the result of an action. There is a hidden power in Karma or action termed 'Adrishta' which brings in fruits of Karmas for the individual. The consequence of an action is really not a separate thing. It is a part of the action and cannot be divided from it.

According to the Gita, any action done with Nishkamya Bhava (selflessness) is Karma. Lord Krishna says: "Work incessantly. Your duty is to work but not to expect the fruits thereof." The central teaching of the Gita is non-attachment to work. Breathing, eating, seeing, hearing, thinking, etc., are all Karmas. Thinking is real Karma. Raga-dvesha (likes and dislikes) constitute real karma.


A man doing a wrong thing argues that he is doing it because of his Karma; and he does not even try not to do it, because it gives him immediate happiness. How to impress upon him not to do it ?

Karma does not compel a man to do wrong actions. Samskara(impressions) does, to a certain extent. But God has bestowed free will on man, with which to make or mar his career. Man has no Bhoga-Svatantrata (freedom to enjoy or suffer), which factor is governed by Karma. But, he has got Karma-Svatantrata (freedom to do good or evil). He can substitute good Samskaras in place of the old vicious Samskaras by Vichara-sakti (power of enquiry), will-power and continued practice of good actions.

That evil seems to give immediate happiness is the greatest temptation and the greatest obstacle to the cultivation of virtues; and it can be removed only by discrimination and experience. Contemplation over the ultimate and permanent damage done to the very soul of man by the evil actions, and the harm he is causing to the entire society itself by his evil, ought to compel a man to desist from evil action - however pleasant it might appear superficially. There is no short-cut to this really serious problem; the wicked heart will not yield easily. And therefore our ancients have exalted Satsang (association with the wise). Constant association with the wise and spiritually evolved persons alone can remove these wrong notions from the mind of the wicked one.


How to free ourselves from Karma, Swamiji ?

Feel, as you do your daily duties, that you are only a witness of all that goes on around you, of even your own actions. This is called Sakshi Bhav. You should inwardly realize that you are different from the active principle in you. This the method of Vedanta.

There is the other - easier, but equally potent - method of Nimitta Bhav. Feel that the Lord alone is the real doer of all actions and that you are an instrument in His hands. Your actions will be transformed into worship of the Lord, and you will not be bound to them. Work without expectation of any reward and without egoism. Root out the idea of agency; feel, "I am not the doer". You will be freed from the shackles of Karma. You will not accumulate new Karma. Allow your Prarabdha Karma (fructifying works) to work out; and you will attain liberation.


What is Yoga ?

To live in God, to commune with God is 'Yoga'. Life in God brings eternal bliss. Yoga shows you the way, unites you with God and makes you perfect and immortal.

Yoga is a system of integral education, education not only of the body and the mind or the intellect, but also of the inner spirit. Yoga shows you the right method of rising from evil to good, and from goodness to holiness and then to eternal divine splendour. Yoga is the art of right living. The Yogi who has learned the art of right living is happy, harmonious, peaceful and free from tension.

Yoga is for all and is universal. It is not a sectarian affair, but a way to God and not a creed. The practice of Yoga is not opposed to any religion or any sacred church. It is purely spiritual and does not contradict anyone's sincere faith.

Yoga is not a religion, but an aid to the practice of the basic spiritual truths in all religions. Yoga is union with God, union with all. God dwells in all. Moral purity and spiritual aspiration are the first steps in the path of Yoga. One who has calm mind, faith in the words of his preceptor and the scriptures, who is moderate in eating, drinking and sleeping and who has intense longing for deliverance from the wheel of births and deaths is a qualified person for the practice of Yoga.

The four paths for God-realization are Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga. Karma Yoga is suitable for a man of active temperament, Bhakti Yoga for a man of devotional temperament, Raja Yoga for a man of mystical temperament and Jnana Yoga for a man of rational and philosophical temperament.

Life today is full of stress and strain, of tension and nervous irritability, of passion and hurry. If man puts in few of the elementary principles of Yoga, he would be far better equipped to cope with his complex existence.

Yoga brings perfection, peace and lasting happiness. You can have calmness of mind at all times by practice of Yoga. You can have restful sleep and increased energy, vigour, vitality, longevity and high standard of health. You can turn out efficient work within a short space of time and have success in every walk of life. Yoga will infuse new strength, confidence and self-reliance in you. The body and mind will be at your beck and call.

It is within the power of everybody to attain success in Yoga. What is wanted is sincere devotion, constant and steady practice. Spiritual growth is gradual. There is progressive evolution. You should not be in feverish hurry to accomplish great Yogic feats or enter into superconscious state in two or three months.

Do not stop the practice when you get a few glimpses and experiences. Continue the practice until you get perfection.


What is Maya ?

That which truly is not, but appears to be, is Maya. That which causes infatuation or Moha is Maya.

Maya is an appearance. It is semblance. It is the illusory power of God.

Maya is the illusory power of God. She is the creatrix of this universe. She projects this world for His Lila (sport). Mind, intellect, body, and senses are her forms. She is the energy or mother-aspect of the Lord.

Just as heat is inseparable from fire, coldness from ice, Maya is inseparable from Brahman (God). It is dependent on Brahman.

Maya has countless potencies. Solidity of stone is a power of Maya. Fluidity of water is another power of Maya. Fire is a third burning power. Air is the moving power of Maya. Ether is the void or space power of Maya.

You know you will die, and yet you think you will live forever. This is Maya. You know that the world is full of miseries, and yet you take delight in the perishable objects and will not leave them. This is Maya. You know that the human body is made up of all sorts of impurities, flesh, bone, urine and faecal matter, and yet you rejoice in embracing it under the sway of lust. This is Maya.

Maya causes false glittering and entraps the deluded Jivas (individual souls). She does a little electroplating work. Man is entrapped. He is caught in the wheel of birth and death.

Maya is neither true nor false. It is truly false and falsely true. It is neither real nor unreal. It is not real like Brahman, because it disappears when one gets Knowledge. It is not unreal like a barren woman's son or the horn of hare, because its presence is felt.

This Maya is a sort of jugglery. You are astonished so long as the juggler is not seen. As soon as the juggler is known, the results are known to be unreal; the wonder ceases at once. When you realize Brahman, the wonder of Maya's working vanishes.

When the mesmerist hypnotises the whole audience, all people believe that the man is ascending the rope in the air. All people see that the mesmerist devours a big sword and cuts the body of a lad in the box. Even so, you are all hypnotised by Maya and Avidya (ignorance) and you take this unreal world as a solid reality. De-hypnotise yourself by getting Knowledge of Brahman. Then alone you will understand the grand jugglery of Maya.


When and why has God created the world ?
Why were we created and put to this miserable and pitiable plight ?
How did Avidya (ignorance) arise in us ?
When did Karma begin ?
How could Avidya (ignorance) or Maya exist in the Supreme Absolute Light ?
Why did the formless assume forms ?
Why is there evil in this world ?

Questions like these are Ati-prasna or transcendental queries - for which you will not get an answer even if you rack your brain for million of years. Answers to these questions cannot be understood with your intellect. You can understand it only with your intuition.

It involves the understanding of the Ultimate Principle, the Intelligence that is behind and beyond these questions, the Cause of all causes, the Subject of all objects. It cannot be known as object. And, when the subject (Self or Atman) knows Itself, speech and thought cease. The questioner and question vanish in the quest. The doubt disappears in the doubter. In that Supreme Silence, the problem is inexpressibly solved! The riddle is solved; but speech is baffled - and the question remains unanswerable.

If a small son questions his father, "Papa, how did you procreate me ?", what answer will Papa give ? He will simply say, "Wait. When you become a man, you will understand this point". This is exactly the case with new aspirants in whom the Light is trying to shine forth. Do not put the cart before the horse. Don't bother about why creation came into being, but try to know the Creator! Take creation for what it is and try to transcend it. This is wisdom. Trying to probe intellectually into the mystery is only buying psychological distress.

There is no 'Why ?' in respect of transcendental matters. 'Why ?' is only for worldly things. Reason is finite and frail. God only knows the 'Why ?'. Realize the Atma. Then you will get the answers. Then you will know the origin and nature of EVERYTHING.

At the present moment, apply yourself to solid Sadhana (spiritual practices) in earnestness and remove Mala (impurities like lust, greed, hatred, anger, jealousy, etc.), Vikshepa (the tossing of mind) and Avarana (veil of ignorance). Do not enter into vain discussions and arguments on such matters.


On what grounds do you prohibit meat-eating ?

On medical, psychological, moral and spiritual grounds. The mind is made up of the essence of the food that a man takes. Tamasic food results in a Tamasic mind (inert, dull). Meat is Tamasic and hence should be avoided.

When an animal is killed or butchered, a contraction of its nervous system takes place on account of fear. (And you might have felt certain disturbances in your own stomach when you have experienced fear.) This leads to the secretion of certain poisons in the liver, etc., of the animal. These poisons are cumulative in their nature and are never removed or lost during the process of boiling or cooking meat. Hence, meat-eating is poisonous and dangerous in the long run.

There is no difference between you and an animal when both are considered as souls inhabiting the bodies. From whichever source you derive the right to live and enjoy in this material body, from that very same source, the souls of these animals have derived equal rights to live and enjoy in their material bodies. Hence, you do not possess the moral right to kill a single living being, however small it may be.

Last, but not least, there is One Consciousness which has expressed itself in the form of the various beings, animate and inanimate. And this makes you one with all beings. Can you willingly and joyously cut your own fingers and cook them and eat them ? Not knowing this oneness alone is the purpose of your coming again and again into the mundane plane. You can know, feel and experience this oneness only when you stop injuring and hurting others and begin to love all as your own Self. Verily, the animals are thy own Self. Thou alone art residing in these animals as the individual souls and thou alone art manifest in the form of the material bodies in which these souls reside. Hence, wake up; stop meat-eating and butchering the animals. Develop love for them and promote oneness.


Should it not be considered as Himsa (injury) when we cut vegetables and fruits ?

Cutting vegetables is not Himsa. There is no real consciousness in plants and trees, although there is life in them. There is life in plants, sensation in animals, mentality in human beings and spirituality in sages. There is no Visesha Ahankara (ego) and reflection of Chaitanya ( pure consciousness) in plants and trees. Hence they cannot experience pain. The tree will not say, "I am experiencing pain". The mind in plants and trees is not developed. It is quite rudimentary. It is Jada (inert) and insentient. Life on earth will be impossible if we take cutting vegetables also as Himsa. This is only splitting the hairs. This is the idle philosophy of those who take interest in vain discussions and arguments. Ignore trifles. Become a practical man.


How is it possible that a Creator, so full of love, created a world and a nature where animals can live only by killing other animals that have to endure terrible pain and suffering ? Nobody can give me a satisfactory answer.
If men kill each other, it is sin; they need not. But, animals cannot live without killing the other animals for food. What do you say ? We are anxious for your opinion.

God's love for the created universe knows no bounds; He cannot be held responsible for the experiences of created beings. God does not punish or reward anyone in a personal way; it is one's own actions, sinful or good, that works as the cause of experience here.

As the human being is endowed with moral sense and as he is invested with the consciousness of doership and responsibility, he imposes this sense of morality and responsibility of action on sub-human beings also. The defect, therefore, lies in man and not in the animals which act without any consciousness of ethical conduct, and spontaneously, free from the responsibility connected with doership or agency.

No action can produce a retributive effect unless it is done with the consciousness of personal doership and responsibility. Man shall be punished by retributive justice, for man has the freedom to act and he is responsible for what he does. But animals have not been endowed with such a freedom and power of understanding and reason; so what they do is just the expression of the instinctive natural promptings in them and this is included in the scheme of the universal nature. Nature is beyond moral laws. Moral conduct is only for man, meant to restrict his behaviour and lead him on to universal consciousness through gradual ascent along the evolutionary ladder.

All things born must die. And there should be some immediate cause for the destruction of things. This cause of destruction may be another animal, an earthquake, a thunder-stroke, flood, disease, storm or any such thing. These should not be clothed with moral and ethical values except when these are concerned with human agency.


Are the senses meant to be starved and destroyed ? The ascetic ideal says so. The Greek ideal, however, is moderate enjoyment of life. Most of the Western thinkers of the rationalistic type accept this. Modern psychologists assert that by denying or refusing the needs of the body such as food and sex and suppressing emotions like attachment and love, people generally create mental problems for themselves. Is there any substance in this ?

No; the senses have not been given only to be starved or killed. Neither are they given for being indulged in and fattened. In truth, the senses are not given for any earthly purpose whatsoever. That is the highest view that the sages uphold for spiritual aspirants. The senses are given for being utilized consciously and deliberately for the attainment of something altogether above and beyond the farthest reach of the senses. To understand the right import and significance of self-restraint, one must take a more comprehensive view of the question.

In human beings, these senses are given together with the superior, directive faculty of intelligence with its aspect such as discrimination, selection, etc. The senses are to operate under its wise supervision. The aim is not the ultimate denial of the senses, but the achievement through restraint, of a pleasure millionfold greater than that achieved through gratification. When one realizes this fact, he will understand, how, with the Yogic aspirant, this self-restraint is not a matter of bitterness or reluctant, unwilling repression at all. Understood in its correct light, it is a joyous, voluntary discipline undertaken for the acquisition of an infinitely greater and more blissful experience. Does the angler ever grudge the loss of the worm cast for catching a big fish ?

Moreover, the rationale of asceticism is not rightly understood by most people. The ideal of asceticism and penance is not based on repression. Conservation and sublimation are the principles underlying asceticism rightly practised. The true ascetic witholds, diverts, canalizes and finally transmutes his natural propensities. The untoward repercussions of forced repression such as complex, neurosis, etc., have no place here. No doubt, modern psychologists are correct in their view about repression, but one must know that it does not apply to religious asceticism, wherein the process is sublimation and not just repression; and it must always be remembered that asceticism is a part of Yoga which provides such a marvellous system of mental training and culture that most effectively counteracts and wards off any possibility of neurotic complexes or obsessions.

It is, however, true that asceticism is very much misunderstood by the majority of persons, and unfortunately by the ascetics themselves, as a result of which we hardly come across a real ascetic in the aspirant world.

Yoga recommends a proper utilization of the tremendous faculties of undissipated senses for higher purposes of inner culture, social welfare, inventions, scientific progress, and finally, intuition. The senses are to be sublimated through restraint applied through reason and intelligent judgement. Their unlimited potentialities are to be harnessed for the greater good and not allowed to most shamelessly dissipated for a momentary pleasure, unintelligent and animalistic. Viewed from this angle, the aspirant is asked not to starve and destroy the senses, but really to strengthen them and utilize them for his good. Dissipation, on the contrary, actually causes destruction of the senses.

The Greek ideal was enunciated as a general philosophy of life for the average humanity. Asceticism, as understood by the sages, is a distinctive discipline specially incumbent upon that class which would walk the spiritual way, the aspirant class dedicated to the goal of Self-realization. This class is vividly aware that the conception of "moderate enjoyment of life" is a conception alone and is well-nigh impossible to put into actual practice. For, the very nature of enjoyment is such that it tends to progressively increase in force each time the senses are indulged in. The habit gets man in its grip and drags him down. This has been the uniform experience of the sages. Therefore, at one stage or the other, a rigid religious self-control and denial becomes imperative in the march to spiritual progress.

The rank materialist may not care for it, but the seeker does. The seeker is marked out for a special achievement. You know how an ultra-modern acrobat, a ballet dancer or an expert boxer willingly imposes a rigid regimen upon himself to keep perfectly trim and healthy for his professional success. Mark the denials and restrictions during the training period of any serious candidate trying for a championship in athletics ! His keen zest and enthusiasm serve to keep his mind in a high mood of inspiration and anticipation. What, then, should be the interest and aspiration in true asceticism undertaken as a part of the training for an infinitely greater achievement in the spiritual path ?


Some philosophers lay great emphasis on reason and rational living. What have you to say ?

How can reason and logic be given the highest place ? The mind, intellect and reason fail when you are under the power of an intoxicant. When anaesthesia is given, where is the logical mind ? Does the logical mind function when you have fasted fully for a fortnight ? It disappears in sleep and swoon. There are some herbs that incapacitate the mind the moment you take them. Thus, there are many occasions when the logical mind of man becomes impotent and stops its function. How can this logical mind or rational living be given the highest status ? Intuition is the highest faculty and the evolution of man is complete when he develops this intuition to the greatest degree and realizes his Atman (Self). The knowledge gained in Samadhi (superconscious state) is the highest knowledge. It is Tattva-Jnana (Knowledge of the Supreme Principle or God).


How to put a permanent end to all doubts and questions ?

As one advances in spiritual Sadhana (spiritual practices) and attains a greater degree of evolution day by day, by regular and unremitting practice of the Yoga of Synthesis, the clouds of doubts, delusion and interrogation disperse by themselves. As the sun rises, the mist disappears. Even so, as you progress by the Grace of Guru and God, all the intricate problems of life and death dissolve themselves into the ever-abiding Truth of existence. The only duty of man is to intensify the inner purity by graded integral Sadhana. Whenever doubts, troubles and the like arise, repeat any one of the following Mantras (sacred words): Om Sri Rama Saranam Mama or Om Sri Krishna Charanau Saranam Prapadye or your Guru Mantra. There is no room for doubts to crop up on the attainment of God-realization, as the seeker is no longer the seeker, but God Himself.


Last Updated: Tuesday, 29-May-2007 00:03:19 EDT
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