Srila Sridhar Maharaj: In 1927 perhaps, there was a big solar eclipse. At that time the Kuruksetra Math was newly started and I was the Math Commander there. Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur went there and a spiritual exhibition was also arranged. This exhibition depicted how Dvaraka Krsna and the Gopis met. At that time, I first heard from our Guru Maharaj why on solar and lunar eclipses, especially the solar eclipse, people come in lakhs and crores to a holy place and take bath.
I remember his explanation. The planets come in a particular line at that time, and there is the possibility that by increased attraction they may clash and everything may be finished – pulverised by that clash. With this apprehension of a natural disaster, the people try to utilise their time in the best way possible by coming to a holy place, taking bath, chanting the Name of the Lord and concentrating their spiritual activity in what may be their last moments. According to their religious beliefs they may chant certain prayers or engage in Nama-sankirtana.
So when the general apprehension of destruction comes, whether individual or collective, we shall try our best to utilise our time with the high conception, within divinity. That is very good. It is also appreciable that where the apprehension of danger is acute, one runs there for relief work. That is laudable. Circumstances may vary, and how far the intention is correct in a particular case is to be judged.
When I was in Madras, one man came to me and preached about the Ram Krsna Mission’s activities. He challenged, “You want to deliver the people, but they are dying of famine and disease. You do not go to help them, but if they die, to whom will you preach? So relief work is necessary. First give them food, medicine and good health. After that you can give them inspiration about God. This process is good. But if they die then who will you help in a spiritual way?”
My reply to him was: “If there is a famine in the country, and I have some food and am distributing it to thousands who are flocking around me, but someone runs away, what should I do? Should I continue distributing food to those who are nearby, or, stopping that, should I run after the man who ran away to catch him and give some food to him? What should I do?” I asked him in this way.
Similarly, men are indeed dying, but there are also those who surround me, ready to take what I have to give them. Why should I interrupt the important function of distribution to chase the fleeing man? I will lose my time by running and leaving the distribution. So many living persons are coming, so why should I be partial only to the dying? There are already hundreds and thousands around me. The very needy persons are already around me. It must be judged as to which policy will be more fruitful.
Of course if there are so many attendants to look after those who are crowded here, then it may be considered that I can go the chase the others and give them nourishment, otherwise there is no need to lose time running or travelling.
Our aim will be to engage ourselves always in this distribution. Again, distribution may not be the only work. Some are seen to distribute, some are supplying, and others are cooking. Different functions are necessary to save the people.
Some disasters are acute and some minor, but disasters are always occurring. It is not only limited to the human beings, but so many insects, animals and others are also in need of receiving such vibration that comes from the Divine layer.
When Mahaprabhu went through the Jharikhanda forest, even lions, elephants and deer received benefit from His Nama-sankirtana. Nama-sankirtana should be done properly. We shall always emanate that divine energy. We shall try to invite and distribute, as a mediator to draw and distribute. Therefore we shall engage ourselves in the most intensified duty of serving as a mediator. This is the primary thing. “I may be deeply engaged in drawing from the upper layer, and emanate that towards the environment.” That sort of high ray or wave is necessary.
Some say that underground towns are being constructed in case of nuclear war. We need to get out of this world of blood and flesh and bones. We are more in danger when we live in this cage. If we can live outside this cage, then we will have no fear. The only thing that is in danger is this fleshy body.
The body is always inviting death. This body means an invitation to death. This body is so dear to us, but our real welfare is to get out of this body and not re-enter such a body which is so cherished by us at present. It is with the association of this body that I am dying and in danger. This body is only an outer product, but the mental body is responsible for everything.
We see with the mental body in dream. There is a ‘country’ where those bodies move and live, with its own government also. That is called Pitrloka.
According to Hindu Scripture, generally the departed souls live on the moon. Two terms are used: Uttarayana and Daksinayana. Daksinayana refers to the period ruled by certain gods; during that time, the soul that passes from the body must return to this soil. Such is the karma of those persons. Their mental body is of such quality that it will again come here. After death they go to the moon to take rest for some time. There is also some arrangement in the Sastra to send some food to them. Food is offered in their name, and that food is given to the sadhus, Brahmanas and cows, etc. Thereby, they get that food. The departed souls have left their energy here.
Their heirs take possession of this accumulated energy, and the heirs should offer something to the forefathers by the process of mantram. Such subtle association is there that if it is done under proper direction it will reach the place of the departed soul – the subtle body of the departed soul will receive it. It is taken there by the process of mantram. There is a society of rsis that look after the affairs of transmitting it to them. In this way, according to their necessity, the forefathers will receive that food from here. This process is something like sending a money-order from here, India, in rupees.
It will be converted to dollars through the exchange system and given to someone in America as dollars. Similarly whatever I offer to the forefathers will be converted by the rsis to the appropriate need of the souls living there. That place is generally Chandraloka, the moon.
For those whose karma is that they will not take birth here again, they go towards the sun. The moon revolves around the earth, but they cross the limit of the attraction of the earth and go elsewhere to have their life nearby the sun. That is Uttarayana. Light predominates there. Chandraloka is dependent light and it revolves this earth, but the sun is above the earth and it represents light, knowledge.
The souls who go there go beyond the boundary of this earth. They go away in their subtle bodies, never to return to this earth again. Those souls leave earth forever. According to their karma they go somewhere else and live there. But in both cases, this is a relative direction only.
We are asked to have our direction through the sun, through light, through knowledge. Jyotir abhyantare rupam atulam syamasundaram. What is light? In the proper conception light is knowledge. In reality, knowledge is light; ignorance is darkness.
Piercing even the light – knowledge – we shall try to find ‘Syamasundara’. We have to try to seek that through the ‘sun’, through the ‘light’. That is the remote direction given to us by the revealed mantras of the Vedas: “Go to the light. Avoid darkness. Welcome light.” Light is the representative of knowledge. Tackle the knowledge in such a way that you can find a cosmos which is very beautiful and personified as evergreen or kisora. Satyam sivam sundaram – that is Truth, that is Good, that is Beautiful. We are given such direction in a symbolic way. We are far from that, so for a person in such a remote place a symbolic expression is extended.
Tad Visnoh paramam padam. Gayatri is the Mother of the Vedas. In only one sentence the whole Vedic truth is contained: Bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam: You are in the midst of different stages of experience, ranging from gross to subtle.
Here begins tat savitur – a categorical change (beyond our general thought). That which is divulged to you or makes you conscious of the gross and subtle experience – catch that light which is showing these things.
Light does not create a thing. Light shows a thing. Knowledge is showing, so try to achieve that type of knowledge which is showing. That is, go to the subjective aspect of things. Try to catch the one who is showing, that is consciousness. Not what is being shown, but who is showing. Try to enter into that subjective realm if possible. There you will find the illuminator – savita – that which is giving birth to all this material experience. The light. The sun is giving birth to all this by sending his ray. The universal subject is helping your dependent subjective identity to see and experience this world. Try to connect with that.
Varenyam – then, try to trace some respectful, reverential cause. Try to go beyond that which is showing everything to you, that grand super-subject, and find the world on the transcendental side, the upper side. There we will find varenyam: that is, varaniya, pujya, a venerable world. Here comes the question of submission and devotion. It is not only light, not only knowledge, but there we will find that a venerable plane is on the other side, which we should serve, worship and respect. Varenyam bhargo: it is full of all knowledge but it is mixed with veneration, devotion, dedication and worship. That world is of such nature. Devasya dhimahi: and we should try to exert all the nerves of our conscious selves to that.
The root meaning of Deva is ‘He who is very beautiful and playful.’ His character is dynamic, not static; a character of Lila and saundarya – beauty and pastimes. Thus bhargo devasya, His bhargo – His paraphernalia of venerable and knowing substance.
Dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prachodayat. If we use our venerative, knowing faculty, we will embrace that. If we can engage ourselves in that endeavour, the result will be our increased capacity to go higher and higher in that direction. There will be no other remuneration for such an endeavour.
This is the substance within Gayatri, which, in a nutshell, is considered to be the Mother of the whole Revealed Truth.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam: dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi. Here also, Gayatri says, ‘dhimahi’. ‘Dhimahi’ means chidanusilana or spiritual cultivation. In that stage it will be venerable, spiritual cultivation.
Dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam: by the halo of that noble substance, all misunderstandings will be cleared and we shall have the connection of the real Truth as a whole. In addition, we shall be blessed by the higher rewards of our attempt when properly guided in that direction.
Satyam param dhimahi: it is the realm of prajnana (prakrsta-jnana), the mystic, higher, inconceivable, conscious experience. It is proper knowledge in the universal characteristic, and whatever we find in this world is defective knowledge.
Gaura Sundar! Gaura Haribol!