This article is a chapter from the book Chidanandam: The Joy of Knowing Him.
A talk delivered during the Thirty-Ninth Birthday Celebration of Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj
Celebration of Swami Chidanandaji’s Birthday is in essence, worship of God. There is nothing in this world but God. Everything is Brahman. You worship an idol. The idol is only an extremely minor part of the virat. But all the same, God is pleased, though you have touched only a small part of the virat. He blesses the devotee and the devotee attains purity of heart which is so essential for God-realisation.
During the celebrations of the Birthdays of great men you hear of their actions, their thoughts, their instructions, and the way in which they led their lives. You imbibe several good qualities from their glorious example. You try to emulate them. You put those qualities into practice in your daily life.
You have heard so much today about Swami Chidanandaji. He who has made a determination now, to become like Chidanandaji, alone will be benefited.
Maya is very powerful. You will think that you are all elevated now, but as soon as you get up in the morning, the mind will run in its own grooves. He who keeps constant satsanga and studies books on vairagya — books like ‘Necessity for Sannyasa’, ‘Lives of Saints’ and ‘Illuminating Stories’, will keep up the current, and he alone can lead a virtuous life. Lectures you have heard. Everybody knows the power of Rama-Nama. But, you do not put it into practice! You have no faith in the Lord’s Name, you have faith only in money. It is celebration of these Birthdays that makes you constantly dwell upon the thoughts and actions of saints. Then alone will you get an impetus and stimulus to attain the Goal which they have reached.
Frequent Birthday celebrations are necessary. Constant hammering of sublime ideas on the mind is necessary. Your mind will otherwise run in its own old grooves. Through daily japa you will have to bring it under control. Regularity is very important thing. Again and again, study books written by saints who have attained Self-realisation. Study Viveka-Chudamani, Atma-Bodha, Tattva-Bodha. Life here is a great battle, but if you have faith in God, it is a great song of love. Again and again approach the saints. Maintain a spiritual diary. Find out how far you have evolved, how many virtues you have developed, how many vicious qualities you have eradicated, how much of selflessness have you inculcated. These are the necessary elements.
It is easy to forget these important things of life. You don’t forget the minute items of your food, but you forget God. An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory. Practice! Then alone you will know how difficult it is. A harsh word upsets you. That is due to the force of previous vicious samskaras. Your task now is to take the waters of the Ganga to their own source. So difficult it is. Yet, with God’s Grace, with determination, you will succeed.
Do not bestow much thoughts on body and food. These are all the products of ignorance. Remove this ignorance through knowledge of the Self, by cultivating Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampad, and attain the goal of life. Repeat the Name of the Lord. Do japa, do kirtan! Do selfless service. Knowledge will come by itself. Jnana will come as the fruit of Bhakti.
Constant remembrance of the Lord, that is most essential. Let the mind run, if it will. The spiritual power of the Lord’s Name will check this outgoing tendency of the mind, and will make it turn inward.
Cultivate virtues. Compassion and humility are the most important of all virtues, which a saint always possesses. You have a sin-hardened heart, that commits various misdeeds. It has to be made soft as butter, by the practice of compassion. A man may deliver lectures for hours together; but if you don’t find compassion and humility in him, shun him. Not this pretended humility! You may pretend to be humble in front of a person and then criticise him at his back. That is not humility. Humility must become your second nature. Anyone will be able to discover this by your actions. Humility must become part of your very nature. Of all virtues, amaanitvam is given the foremost place in the Gita.
Always have the ideal of a saint before you. Cultivate dispassion. The wealth of the whole world is nothing when compared to dispassion. Vairagya makes a man most wealthy; he gains the inexhaustible spiritual wealth. He who has discrimination is the only rich man in this world. He who does japa daily is the richest man in this world. The whole wealth of the Lord belongs to him.
You must be an embodiment of patience, tolerance and forgiveness. Even if people abuse you, you must stand like the yonder Himalayas. You must always have a cool mind, not perturbed by anything. How very weak in mind you have become! Keep a balanced mind always. That is spiritual strength; that is wisdom.
You have heard much. Try to practise now. Watch the mind and see what you have done to improve yourself. How far have you practised the sadhana? Be good and do good!
Cultivate your will-power through japa. Never forget this; samadhi will come by itself. God has given you a good buddhi or intellect. Utilise it properly and discriminate.
Compassion and humility Swami Chidanandaji has got in abundance. In the previous birth itself he was a Sannyasi; from the way in which he behaves we can find that out. Shanti was a Sannyasi, Swami Krishnanandaji was a Sannyasi; they must have been Sannyasins in their previous birth itself. It is the wealth of previous samskaras that has enabled them to take to this path of Divine Life at such an early age. If you don’t have them, you must generate them now, through fasting, prayer and service, so that in the next birth you will be born as a saint. Then you will find a good teacher and you will evolve quickly. It is not too late. Make a resolve today. Cultivate virtues.
People have described Swami Chidanandaji. He is a doctor of doctors. He is a doctor of lepers. He is full of mercy. You must cultivate mercy. When you see any man lying on the road, you don’t go to help him; you say “It is his prarabdha“. Even if you are starving, you must give your cup of milk to that man; in this way your heart will expand. Consciousness of Unity will come only through these ways. Break all barriers that separate man from man through selfless service. You cannot attain Cosmic Consciousness through M.A., Ph.D., degrees. They will only fatten your ego. Selfless service alone will enable you to attain Cosmic Consciousness. Share what you have with others. Give… Give… Give…
You will unite at heart with the whole world. This is the secret of abundance. Do not try to accumulate. God takes care of all His children. Spend everything in charity. The whole world is in distress and affliction. Remove them and you will grow in spirituality. All these saints, i.e. Lord Buddha, Lord Jesus, etc. have become saints and supermen, by serving everybody. Cramming of Vedantic texts will not do. These Pandits, if they are not given a seat of honour at a public meeting, they will be upset. That is not the mark of a saint. Again and again hammer the mind with ideals like “I am the Self of all creatures”. Practise compassion, service, humility and other virtues. Then shine like our Chidanandaji.
This is my fervent prayer!