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The Paths of YogaA bhakta called Barasvami once said to a crowd of people who were listening to his explanations of the Bhagavatam on the footsteps leading into the river Ganges in Benares: “Each and everyone in this world complains about his own unhappiness, his troubles, difficulties and the hard cross he has to bear. And everyone imagines himself to be the one who has to suffer the most.
Our longing for enjoyment and our efforts to escape suffering keep us busy day and night up to the last moment of our life. This has been going on from eternity and will go on for eternity; from birth to birth.
We uselessly imagine that fate or, as we sometimes think, God is unnecessarily hard, even cruel to us, and forget that we are cruel to our own true selves. We suffer and enjoy the results of our own actions – not a bit more or less.
The body changes from birth to birth, but the subtle covering of the inner mind accompanies the atma on his endless journey. The impressions and desires we cherish in our heart are deposited there like tiny seeds, which sprout and grow and determine the course of our next life and the sort of fate – as we call it – we have to bear in the present life.
But there is a silent Friend always along with us. It is the Paramatma or Vishnu, the immanent form of God, residing in every heart. His very presence causes that most impartially and most objectively we get what we deserve. This true Friend is always keen that we faithfully follow the path of life, that Bhagavan has pro¬pounded in the Shastrams. Over and over again He leads us to the company of holy people [bhaktas], because in their company alone we can hear from their lips the words that tell about atma, Paramatma, Brahma and Bhagavan. These words can instil knowing love of God (bhakti) into our hearts and remove our ignorance about ourselves, this world and God.
The eternal Friend, however, does not interfere with our free will. We need not pay any heed to the Shastrams, unless we wish to. Many people think they can chalk out their own path and they cherish their own fantasies and ideas about the world, atma and God, and the way to salvation. But all those who have attained salvation have followed the way shown in the Shastrams, and all great philosophers and sages, who practised what they preached and thought, have accepted the Shastrams as their only guide.
How should it be possible to know what God is, when our mind is incapable even of grasping what the atma is, as the mind is unable to go beyond its own limit?
Our mind is always prompted by desires. As truth we consider and accept only what appeals to our mind and instincts and bluntly reject what we do not like. Our mind is always going astray.
You all know from the Gita, that Krishna says to Arjuna: ‘I alone know the meaning of the Shastrams. The Shastrams have their origin in Me’ and ‘If someone thinks that he can ignore the Shastrams and act and think as he likes – he is free to do so – but he will not attain what he hopes for: he will not become happy, not to mention attainment of the highest goal of life. The Shastrams are the only authority on what a man should do or not should do. Hence, you should make yourself well acquainted with the meaning of the Shastrams and act accordingly.’ (XVI, 23–24) […] .
Svami Sadananda Dasa