Tuesday, February 28, 2017


ahimsa - non-injury
amrita - nectar of immortality
anubhava - direct experience
apana - downward-flowing life energy
aparigraha - non-possessiveness
arati - divine enjoyment, a devotional ceremony
asana - seat; purifying posture
ashrama - the house of the guru; stage of life
asteya - non-theft
Atman - soul, core of being
avatara - incarnation of God

bandha - lock
Bhagavan - God (the Bestower)
bhakta - devotee, one who engages in devotion as a path to achieve union with God
bhakti - devotion
Brahma - the God of Creation
Brahman - the Absolute
brahmin - god-person; priest
brahmacharya - celibacy; mastery of the creative force
brahmachari - one who practices celibacy; one who has mastered the creative force
buddhi - the consciousness factor

chakra - wheel; energy center
chitta - mind stuff

dharana - concentration
dharma - way of living based of Truth; the way things actually are dharshana - holy vision
deva - a god; sense faculty
dhyana - meditation
diksha - initiation

granthi - knot
guna - quality (Nature has three gunas.)
guru - he who brings light where there was darkness; spiritual teacher

hatha yoga - the yoga which purifies the body and sense faculties

ida nadi - the main left-hand, downward-flowing energy channel in the body
Ishvara - God, the Master Surrounder
ishvara-pranidhana - surrender to God

japa - repeating of holy sounds
jaya Bhagavan - victory to God
jnana - knowledge
jnani - one who engages in knowledge as a path to a
chieve union with God

karma - action
karmi - one who engages in action as a path to achieve union with God Kayavarohana - descent of God to earth in a body; name of the sacred pilgrimage place where Lord Lakulisha taught kirtana - singing to God
Kripalvananda - the Bliss of Grace, our grandfather guru
kundalini - the evolutionary power

Lakulisha - the twenty-eighth incarnation of Shiva, our great-grandfather guru
linga - a representation of the unmanifest Absolute
loka - world; place

ma - mother
maha - great
maharshi - great seer
mantra - sacred syllable or formula
marga - path or way
moksha - liberation
mudra - energy seal in the body
muni - sage; ponderer; silent ascetic

nada - sound
nadi - energy channel
nirbija - without the seed of desire
nivritti marga - the path of complete surrender to God, in which the goal is liberation
niyama - observance

OM - the sound of the Absolute
OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya - OM, a prostration to God, the Bestower, the Dweller in All
OM Namah Shivaya - OM, A prostration to God, the Benevolent Destroyer

Pashupata - Master of the Animal; name of our tradition
pingala nadi - the main right-hand, upward-flowing energy channel in the body
prakriti - Nature
prana - vital force, breath, life energy
pranayama - breath restraint or control
prasada - gift of grace; blessed food
pravritti marga - the path of willful control of mind, in which the goal is worldly success
puja - worship, usually a specific ceremony of worship
purana - epic scriptural story
purna - complete, perfect
Purusha - the individual

rajas - the passionate quality of Nature
raja yoga - royal yoga, which purifies the mind
rishi - seer
Rudra - name of Shiva as the Weeper, the Howler

sabija - with the seed of desire
sadhaka - spiritual aspirant (male)
sadhika - spiritual aspirant (female)
sadhana - spiritual practice
sahaja yoga - natural, spontaneous, surrender yoga
samadhi - union with God
samtosha - contentment
Sanatana Dharma - Eternal Truth which is always true regardless of country, century, culture, custom, or tradition; the eternal way of living based on Divine Order, or the way things actually are
sannyasa - renunciation
sannyasi - renunciate
satsanga - sharing the Truth
sattvas - the tranquil quality of Nature
satya - telling the truth
seva - service
shaucha - purity
shakti - energy, power; the female aspect of God
shaktipata - energy gift
shaktipata diksha - initiation into surrender yoga
shat karmas - the six actions; internal bodily cleansing techniques
Shiva - the God of Transformation, the Benevolent Destroyer
shloka - stanza, verse
shri - glorious, brilliant, splendid
siddhi - power, ability
sushumna - the central energy channel in the body
svadhyaya - self-study
svami - master

tamas - the dark, inert quality of Nature
tapas - austerity, heat
tirtha - ford, holy place

vayu - air
Vishnu - the God of Sustenance, the Maintainer of Life

yama - restraint
yoga - union
Yogeshwara - the Master of Yoga, our guru
yogi - one who practices yoga

We also use these common Gujarati words, since our grandfather guru is from Gujarat, India:

Bapuji - beloved father, our guru, Yogeshwar Muni
Dadaji - beloved grandfather, our grandfather guru, Svami Kripalvananda
Maha Dadaji - beloved great-grandfather, our great-grandfather guru, Lord Lakulisha

Friday, February 17, 2017

WORSHIP OF GOD, Swami Kripalvananda

Beloved Satsangis, lovers of God and Guru:

Today I will discuss the Worship of God. To worship the Lord means to make contact with God in order to attain God. Here there is one big question that arises: as long as God is not present in front of us there is no possibility of offering our worship to the Lord. One meaning of puja (worship) is "love affair with God." If the beloved is not present or in our memory, how can we have the love affair? So either the beloved should be in front of our eyes or He should be in our memory, and only then can we express our love toward Him.

Our conclusion is usually that God is not in front of us. Not only that but we wonder: "If there is God, what is He like?" If we do not know the form of God how can we ever meditate on Him? As long as we don't have a clear mental image in our mind's eye as to what God is like, we cannot really and truly pray to Him. So before we offer our puja to God, we must have a clear understanding as to what He is like.

In order to find out the answer to this question we approach the saints, all and every one of this world. And if we ask individually to each one, "Have you seen God?" some of them would answer, "Yes, I have seen." Some would say, "I haven't seen Him but I have faith that He is." We ask those who say they have seen Him, "What is He like?" Our mind would be alert and our intellect would begin to compare what each one of these saints says that God is like. Suppose we collect information from 50 saints as to what God is like. After listening to their experiences or descriptions of God our mind would be very confused. Because each and every saint would describe God differently. And as soon as that happened we would lose our faith.

One will find out soon that the description as to what God is like will continually differ from one saint to another. From this we might be able to derive or feel that none of them have truly seen God; or if they have seen, they have seen something else. How can we grow just by believing that God is? There are many scriptures where it is said that God is. But they haven't explained as to what God is like. In scripture they only say that God is merciful and loving and so on. These are only adjectives. They are not a description of what He is. Some think that because God is like us, He must speak through a heart and see with eyes like our eyes. People think that he must be like a man because he has all these different abilities to know what we know through our five senses. So when one imagines God, he imagines God like himself. Similarly, if a buffalo thinks of God he will think of Him as a big buffalo. In this way the first question is very confusing and yet it is very simple also. We can say to God, "Lord, I do not know what you are, so how can I imagine you? But I just imagine that you are." This is where the Sanatana Dharma is different from the rest. Sanatana Dharma shows many different forms and aspects of God. When creation takes place, Brahman (The Absolute) creates the energy of Shakti (power, the female aspect of God) who has three different forms: the creative energy that is Brahma's (the God of creation), the sustaining energy that is Vishnu (the God of sustenance), and the destructive energy or changing energy that is Shiva (the God of transformation). Similarly, many innumerable other energies have been named, all of which are included in these three main energies: creative, sustaining and destructive. All these energies are included in one Absolute which is formless, nameless, and ever present, which we call Brahman.

Brahman is shown in two different aspects, one is with form, another without form. Manifestation has a form and unmanifest is formless, and is the source of the manifest. The Sanatana Dharma is so profound, and has so included every aspect of God and His descriptions, that no matter what description you are thinking about, if it is truly ingrained in Truth, it is possible to find it in the Sanatana Dharma.

In ancient India so much indepth thought had been given regarding the search for God and the existence of God that even if you take just one short sentence written by these ancients, it can take you lifetimes to realize it. If it takes a whole lifetime to understand one of the sentences of God, then to do the complete puja of God takes many incarnations. We can't really grow if we fix ourselves and say we are incapable and not work toward it. One should select any of these three: Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva and, believing that it exists, worship that form of God. When one attains to God one can easily understand the Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva energies very clearly. Those are yogic experiences. So, as long as one does not attain to the final state-of yoga one will not understand what this means. We can believe in one God, which includes all his energies, and we can worship that as Brahman.

If a child is born in your home it is up to you as to what name you want to give to him. Similarly, when God is born in your mind you can give Him any name. Among all those names of God, remember one thing: that the sannyasi (renunciates) say that Ram and Om are the best names of the Lord. The name Ram depicts God in form, and the name Om depicts God in the formless. So first you use the word "Ram" for chanting and then when the form is completed and you become one with the formless, "Om" begins. In Om, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva merge together.

Take any form of God, the one which you like most, and establish an idol of it and do puja for it. In the scriptures, the description of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is given; and from that description artists have tried to depict God in the form of a picture. But when we select one of Rama, Krishna, Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva and we have the idol, we will still have one question in our mind: Why would Krishna, for example, be painted differently by different artists? Why is each and every one of these paintings different from each other? One artist's Krishna will not be like the other ones. Those poor artists, they haven't seen Krishna and yet they paint Krishna's picture on the basis of scriptural descriptions. Whatever characteristics are described in scriptures, from those they get their ideas.

Suppose you have accepted Lord Shiva as your approach of worship. How does Lord Shiva look? There is very beautiful hair and there is a flower garland tied over his hair. On top of this there is the river Ganges in the form of a female just pouring the water out from the top of his hair. And there is a moon in his forehead. And he has on his forehead a third eye, and snakes are wrapped around his neck. He is wearing a tiger skin over his waist, he has a trident and a small drum in his hand. Artists may have drawn this figure to be very tall or short or fat or thin, but that makes no difference. As long as these characteristics are given we can recognize this as Lord Shiva. What I have given you are the characteristics by which to recognize Lord Shiva. When you have come face to face with Lord Shiva you would actually see all this: he would have a lot of hair wrapped up on the top with the garland of flowers, the Ganges flowing from his hair, the moon in his forehead, the third eye, snakes wrapped around his neck, a tiger skin over his waist, a trident in his right hand, the dumeral (the drum) in his left hand, and ashes smeared all over his body. You would be able to recognize him in this form because these are his special signs. Whether a devotee be of this country or of any other country, when he attains the stage of having Shiva face to face he would definitely recognize him in this form. This is very, very true. The greatest saint of any country, those who have reached to the highest, if they happen to read the scriptures of India, they will invariably say, "I have seen Brahma, I have seen Vishnu, I have seen Shiva and I know Brahman."

In this way we now know about the form of God; and because God is not visible, we will have to place his statue in front of us. There is only one reason for having a statue in front of us and that is so our eyes can make contact with the form and our mind can continuously remain engaged in the thought of God. This activity will continuously remind us of God. To illustrate this, give a doll to a little child to play with. When the child is playing with the doll, hide yourself and watch how the child plays. She treats that doll as if that doll is alive. She says, "Why are you speaking too much?" This doll is speaking nothing. She says, "Why do you look at me like that?" The doll does not look. Yet the child treats the doll as if it is alive and can interact. No matter how old the individual gets, 25, 40, 50 or 100 years old, yet he remains still a child in the spiritual realm. For him his statue is much better than even a doll is to a child. Mother has given birth to a child, but how can mother sit all day long keeping the child in her lap? Only when mother provides a doll to the little child can she direct the child's attention in another area, enabling her to accomplish tasks at home. Just as mother loves the child, so the child loves the doll. This is a very natural process. So, if there is any harm to idol worship it is so minimal compared to the benefits that one receives.

Now, you have selected the idol that you want to worship and you have already established the idol in your worship room and now you want to worship and do puja to that idol. As I have described to you before, through puja you are establishing contact with God. It is a form of a love affair with God. The Dharmacharyas, the spiritual teachers, have recommended idol worship with great in depth understanding. The devotees bathe the idol, God. They pour their feelings as if they are giving a real bath to God. In this way the devotees' imagination becomes very sharp and filled with love, and love pours out of their hearts as a result. In their hands they may have a statue but in their hearts and minds they don't feel like it is a statue. In their hearts and minds they have just the true feeling of God. We can say that in a devotee's hand he has a material statue but in his mind he has a live God, as if God is actually there in front of him. To him God seems so alive that he can see him blinking his eyes, speaking, laughing, eating and doing everything. By entering into the field of imagination one begins to actually attune to God. This is why the devotee gives a bath to God, and bathes the statue as if he is bathing God Himself. Then with great love he wipes off the wet body of the Lord and then properly he dresses the idol. If he is giving the offering to Lord Shiva he will put in his hand the trident and drum and apply ashes all over his body. He will also give all the decorations according to the scriptural description of Lord Shiva. By doing all these things, the mind merges into Shiva.

I will explain this principle with one anecdote. One sister had a five-year-old baby who had died and at this time she suffered a lot. After the death of the child she collected all the clothing and toys of the baby into one suitcase and put it away. Two or three years passed. One day when she was looking for something, she was accidentally opened that suitcase and right away she saw the very small stockings of the child and the small shoes. She looked at the underclothes, the shirt, the little cap, and in her mind's eye the baby came alive. She saw the little feet in the shoes, the baby's body in the garment, and his face beneath the cap. Everything became very visually real. At the same time, tears began to flow from her eyes. The child who died three years before, his face now appeared very clearly to her.

This is how all of meditation occurs. Puja is one form of meditation. In India, in every house, such pujas take place. Those who have time take at least 15-20 minutes for this puja. They recite the shlokas (scriptural verses) as they bathe the Lord and clothe Him. In this way his mind becomes associated with God and he forgets for a while the world outside of himself. This is why it has been recommended to worship God every day. I firmly believe that idol worship is of the greatest help to those who are just starting sadhana. It purifies the mind, and as soon as the mind is purified the physical purification becomes simple. The mind is very closely associated with the body and the body is very closely associated with the mind, so the purity of one affects the purity of the other.

For the purification of the body and mind, the puja to God is invariably necessary. I have given you here the principles behind all of worship and the information necessary to begin.

THOUGHT AND ACTION, Swami Kripalvananda

Beloved Satsangis; lovers of God and Guru; I am presenting these thoughts to you with the intention that you will be able to practice them in your every-day life.

When thoughts are in our mind at the earliest stage, they are in the ordinary stage; in that there is great unclarity.  When we deeply reflect on those thoughts, they have greater clarity than the earlier stage.  Then when we reflect with great intensity and one-pointedness, the thought becomes more clear to us.  We usually dwell upon and think about the many associations that come to us through the five senses.  Through that the entire thought processes go on.  We cannot really dwell deeply on every thought that comes up in our mind.  Only the thoughts that impress themselves upon mind deeply become actions.  We cannot necessarily say that every thought that produces action is properly understood.  Thoughts are one end and actions are another end.  Through thoughts actions are born; and through actions thoughts are born.  Those who are travelers of Jnana (knowledge) Yoga begin with thinking.  Those who are Karma (Action) Yogis begin with actions; and they approach thoughts.  In this way, thoughts and actions are associated or related to each other.

We go through innumerable thoughts in one day.  As a result of this, we cannot do proper justice to each thought that goes through us.  The mind is greatly restless.  We can easily compare the mind with a lake.  Imagine that innumerable children are standing all around the lake holding lots of sand and stones in their hands and are throwing it in the lake so that the lake cannot remain still.  This is really the condition of our mind.  Under these circumstances, if we do not practice stillness of the mind at all, we cannot go on the desired path.  All these thoughts are created when the five senses come in contact with external objects.  This makes the mind external.  So, if we want to make our mind steady, all these gates of disturbances must be stopped, if only for a short time.  That will make the mind more introverted.  As long as a person is not introverted, he cannot properly reflect on the desired thoughts.  It is very difficult to reflect on a desired thought when the external thoughts from the five senses are constantly coming in.  If we can somehow cut off the external stimuli coming from the five senses, we can truly go deep within.  At that time, whatever condition our mind is, in that condition the prana comes too (this means they both begin to vibrate at a similar level); and in whatever condition the prana is, the senses cooperate also.  So, when the mind is restless, the prana becomes restless, and if the prana becomes restless, all the senses become restless. So, if we want to become steady, first, we will have to make our mind steady; that will steady our prana, and that will calm our senses.  If our mind is divided into many directions at any one given time, we cannot appropriately direct our thoughts in a desirable direction.  So one should try to steady one's mind on any one subject.  All the tools provided in Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga (Devotion), and Karma Yoga are intended to bring the steadiness of mind.

Imagine that one individual is doing padnasana.  He is sitting with his legs extended.  First, he picks up one leg and puts it on the opposite thigh.  Second, he picks up the other leg and puts it on the opposite thigh.  Third, he rests his palms in his lap, one over the other.  So those for whom this posture is easy, they easily get into this position.  I can do this padnasana very easily and this is how it happens, very quickly.  However, this padnasana will not make the mind steady, neither will it remove the disease.  If you want to steady the mind through this padnasana and remove the disease, you will have to perform it in a different manner.

Another method of doing it is called the Kriya (movement) or Chitta (mindstuff) and prana (life energy) - in that, whenever any particular Kriya or movement is done, the prana and chitta are united or harmonized. How does this Kriya happen?  Just listen to its description.  If one is to do this padnasana, in the beginning both legs are extended in front.  You sit still.  Slowly and steadily you either breathe in or breathe out.  After you have taken a few deep breaths, you extend your arms to hold one foot and without hurrying - in an extremely steady and slow manner - slowly and slowly and slowly you bring your foot and place it on the thigh.  What is happening is, this is the senses, (chitta means there is mind there and prana there), and then as you hold the foot you are bringing all three, chitta, prana and senses in harmony and then with great steadiness, in a slow and steady motion, keeping all of them together you are bringing your foot to the thigh, you again become still for a moment and again breathe steadily; breathe in and breathe out, then extend your mind (attention) to the other foot.  As soon as the mind goes there, the prana also will go behind it and will become steady.  In this way there is a harmony of senses, mind, and prana; they all unite together in one place.  While you are going through the Kriya, you are also doing another very special Kriya - that is the Kriya of the eyes.  You fix your gaze in that spot; then, at the same time you also hold the other foot and in a steady manner; slowly, slowly, slowly, you  bring it and place it on the other thigh.  Then again breathe in and breathe out.  Be steady and bring your mind into your right hand palm and then the prana will also begin to flow there.  The senses are already there and with very steady motion you will bring your palm and rest it in your lap.  After that, again be still breathing in and breathing out.  After that, repeat the same thing with the other palm.  Send your mind there, allow the prana to flow there, and then, slowly and steadily raise it and allow it to be calm in your lap and rest it over your other palm.  You have to fix your gaze where the mind is, where the prana is, where the senses are, and so you will at once begin to get into meditation.  You may be doing many different postures; but, when you perform the postures this way, you will have a very unique experience.  In this, the body, the senses, the prana, the mind, and the eyes will work in complete harmony and unity.

Those who are mantrics, who do Kriya Yoga with mantras, first of all, learn to direct the prana in their body wherever they desire.  They take water in a container and extend all their prana in their right hand and they shower it to the center of their palm, place their palm over the water and repeat mantrayam.  The water becomes sanctified when the mantra's vibrations enter the water.  If that mantra water is given to any person suffering from any disease, he would be cured.  When this mantric sits very quietly and sends his prana to any given individual, it immediately begins to proceed towards him.  This prana surrounds that individual and makes a desired change in him.  So he can even heal people, who are suffering and those people who are at a distance by his prana shakti.  He can extend his love to anyone who is suffering in this manner.  When the surroundings are very still and there are not disturbances in the external surroundings, there is then this flow of prana that goes with great intensity towards the desired place.  From morning till evening there are innumerable people, each one thinking innumerable thoughts, and they all fill the surroundings.  The power of the mantric, through his prana energy, can pierce through all those disturbances and go to his desired target.  You must have noticed this occurring on the radio also.  When there is a disturbance in the surroundings, the sounds that the radio is catching brings static in it.  In the airplane, also, situations like this happen.  Likewise, such a disturbance quite often creates a hurdle or blockage in the thoughts.  To those who are expert mantrics with their prana energy, no such disturbance comes in their way.  They simply pierce through all the disturbances.  These true mantrics are the true saints and they never harm anyone.  Such miraculous powers are not likely to be available to everyone, except the saints.

The Kriya of chitta and prana has a capacity to bring great peace into your life.  It will not take you time to learn it; it will take a long time to digest it.  However, as you go on practicing, you will experience the great peace.  The moment you practice it, the same moment you will be able to experience the bliss of it.

Everybody knows that asanas can cure diseases, but very few know as to how these postures should be done that would have the desired effect of removing the diseases.  If these asanas are done through the technique of chitta and prana, they can very readily and quickly remove the diseases.  A mantric can remove the disease simply by pressing his hand over the diseased area.  It is not easy to have this mantra siddhi (power).  For many years he has to practice pure brahmacharya (celibacy).  Its limit is 12 years.  He has to live on milk.  He lives in seclusion.  He keeps his mind extremely steady.  He removes all the desires of his mind and continues to practice mantra japa.  Then he refines the mind and the body.  As soon as he goes through this, he truly becomes picked to serve the entire world.
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