Infinite Ways to Infinite Bliss
In this section, we present excerpts from the discourses of His Holiness Sri Muralidhara Swamiji of Chennai, India.
There is vast difference between one who has no food to eat and thus goes hungry and one who observes a fast. The former, unable to get any food, remains without eating; whereas, the latter has all kinds of food available at his table, yet remains without eating. Only such a person is said to observe a fast.
Likewise, nobody mistakes a beggar who lives in a railway stations or outside a temple without a worry about a roof over his head, food or possessions, for a saint or for someone with a lot of vairagya (dispassion). We deem those who possess good physique but beg, as indolent. Compassion only is born towards those who are physically handicapped or diseased. One does not become mahatma or dispassionate by mere external appearance.
If a wealthy man offers a few thousand dollars in charity, it does not become a highly laudable act. But the charity performed by a poor man who struggles to run his daily life is highly commendable.
Similarly, the smallest thought of the Lord by a householder amid the various trials and tribulations of his life is much more praiseworthy than the dhyana performed for several hours by a sanyasi who has renounced worldly life. In the same way, one need not be amazed by the vairagya of a person who has walked out of his family (leaving them to fend for themselves)! Being a man, he will find some place below a tree or on the pyol of a house to lay his head down in rest. Whatever food he may lay his hands on is only to feed himself. He has no responsibility to feed or take care of any one. He need not worry about anyone. His needs are not much as he is single and a man. He can somehow manage to run his life.
However, the bhakti (devotion to God) of one who is married, has children, is running a household, but yet is not in the least worried about anything is verily great indeed! Innumerable mahatmas like Sant Tukkaram, Sri Thyagaraja Swami, Sri Purandaradas, Sri Sadguru Swami, who performed bhakti amidst their duty to protect their wife and children, arrange for food, clothes and shelter for them have truly led a life of total vairagya.
An action should be viewed in its depth and not lightly. In Ramayana, what is the greatness of the help that the squirrel rendered? When the bridge was constructed across the sea, huge boulders were thrown into the sea by the strong monkey army. The sea waves splashed hard against the shore. Amidst all these the tiny squirrel rendered its might in building the bridge. The squirrel could have been smashed to death if it had got caught between the boulders or under the feet of the huge monkeys. If it had been washed away by the waves none would have known its fate. The service rendered by the squirrel despite such great dangers was verily great. It was just wonderful! In the same way, to live with bhakti, vairagya and jnana and face life courageously without running away from anything is indeed wonderful. This is the philosophy of Rama Avatar.
Let us say that there is a mahatma who has attained Self-Realization and is living under a tree or in a forest or a cave. And there is another mahatma, who though a jnani is, like Sri Krishna, ceaselessly carrying on some work. As per Vedanta, a jnani is a “non-doer” even though he performs actions. His experience and Bliss is not affected by his involvement in external activities. In such a case the jnani who holds himself away in hiding is akin to a pond in a forest. He is not of much use to anyone. But the jnani who ceaselessly works is akin to the lake in a city. He benefits many.
If all those who have attained Realization and seen God were to run away from the world and stay hidden, then only ‘dry’ bhakti and Vedanta will be available to us without direct anubhooti (experience); or the Truth would be misconstrued with wrong and foolish interpretation of great religious texts (as there would be no one with direct experience to explain the highest knowledge to us).
Let us, therefore, pray to the Almighty to lead a life in divinity and at the same time, lead a life of tireless service, just like Lord Krishna did.
Translated excerpts from the discourses of HH Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji