Need for Morality and Spirituality
India won against Pakistan in the Kargil War. At that time the chief of Indian Army was Mr. Mallik. After the war, while he was touring USA, someone had asked him, " What was your greatest strength during the Kargil War?" He had replied, "Dharma." It means righteousness or morality. Mr. Mallik had not mentioned the number of soldiers or the quality of weapons nor management or leadership skills because he had realised the importance of morality. Mahabharat proclaims, This means that where there is morality there is victory.
Every Government has laws that punish people for immoral acts of forgery, rape, murder, dacoity, drug-trafficking, terrorism, etc. because primarily, such crimes give pain and suffering to others. If they go unpunished the weak would suffer and eventually peace and smooth running of any society would be disrupted. Morality gives inner strength and peace of mind. People will trust and respect a moral person.
To remain moral under all circumstances one needs to be spiritual as well because spirituality is the source of morality. And the essence of spirituality is God. Thus, to be moral one needs to believe in God. Bhagwan Swaminarayan says, "God is the upholder of dharma. Therefore, when one keeps faith in God, dharma also dwells in his heart.",2 Mahabharat says, This means where there is Krishna there is morality.
So long as human beings continue to exist on this earth morality and spirituality would be indispensable not just for their survival but also for contentment, fulfillment and experience of bliss in life here and hereafter. Vachanamrut is a moral and spiritual scripture but chiefly spiritual. Therefore it is relevant for all times.
In the Vachanamrut Bhagwan Swaminarayan deals with all types of questions faced by a spiritual aspirant, whether a novice or highly advanced. Many times He would start a discourse without any question being asked or He would ask a question initiating a discussion. The total number of questions asked in the Vachanamrut are four hundred and fifty six. Among them let us get a taste of His answers to questions on sin, worship, anger, jealousy, egotism, death, way to remain calm, conquering mind, love for God and some more.
Concentration in Worship
Bhagwan Swaminarayan's nephew, Ayodhyaprasadji, asked, "In this world a person may be engrossed all day long in worldly affairs. During that time, he may be involved in some good or bad karmas. He may also worship God for half an hour or so. Is this enough to burn all his sins committed during the day?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied, "Even if a person has spent the whole day in pravrutti, and regardless of whatever type of activities he may have been involved in, if, when he engages in the worship of God, his indriyas, antahkaran and jiva, all unite and become engrossed in worship, then even if he does so for half an hour or even for few minutes, all of his sins will be burnt to ashes. However, if his indriyas, antahkaran and jiva do not unitedly engage in worship, then his sins cannot be burned by worshipping for such a short while. Such a person can attain liberation only by the grace of God. 4
Steady Resolve In Worship
Muktanand Swami, an eminent sadhu, asked, "Why is a person unable to maintain a steady resolve in worship, remembrance and religious vows?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan explained, "A person's resolve does not remain steady due to the influence of adverse place, time, action and company." 5 Then, for maintaining the highest resolve he suggests serving the Gunatit Sadhu.
Love For Satsang Fellowship
Harji Thakker, a householder devotee, asked, "Some have been doing satsang for quite some time, yet they do not develop the same profound love for the Satsang fellowship as they do for their own body and relatives. What is the reason for this?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan explained, "Such a person has not fully realised the greatness of God. And when the Sadhu, by whose company God's greatness is fully realised, talks to him about eradicating lust, jealousy, anger, ego, etc., the person is not able to overcome them. Instead, he bears aversion towards the Sadhu. It is due to this sin that he does not develop intense love for the Satsang fellowship" 6
Vrutti on God
Brahmanand Swami a leading saint-poet asked, "Why is it that when we keep our vrutti on God it remains only for as long as we forcibly keep it there, whereas it remains on worldly objects without the slightest effort?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied, "The vrutti of a God's devotee never remains on anything except God while a worldly person finds it difficult to keep his vrutti on God. Therefore, a person whose vrutti does not remain fixed on God is not a devotee of God. Nevertheless, if he attends Satsang, he will gradually become a devotee by listening to the talks of the sadhus." 7
Shuk Muni, Bhagwan Swaminarayan's personal sadhu-attendant, asked, "If a slight trace of anger arises but is then suppressed, is such anger obstructive or not?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied, "If a snake were to appear in this assembly at this moment, then even if it does not bite anyone, everyone would still get up and run away and there would be panic in everyone's heart. Furthermore, if a tiger were to come and roar at the outskirts of a village, then even if it does not harm anyone, all would be terrorized and no one would come out of their homes. Similarly, even if a trace of anger were to arise, it would still be a source of extreme misery." 8
Once Bhagwan Swaminarayan said, "Devotees of God should not be jealous of each other." Thereupon Anandanand Swami remarked, "But Maharaj, even then, jealousy still remains." Hearing this, Bhagwan Swaminarayan explained, "If osne cannot help being jealous, then one should imbibe the virtues of the person towards whom one is jealous and should give up one's own faults. If this cannot be done, then a devotee of God should at least totally abandon any form of jealousy that would result in harming another devotee of God."
Once Bhagwan Swaminarayan said to His Paramhansas, "Please begin a question-answer session." Thereupon Muni Bawa asked Brahmanand Swami, "We are in Satsang fellowship and we have the association of God. All other flaws have been eradicated and we have the zeal to do satsang. Despite this, why does egotism still remain?" Brahmanand Swami tried to answer but it was not satisfactory. Thereupon Bhagwan Swaminarayan said, "Such a person lacks intelligence because, one who is intelligent realises all of his flaws and virtues, as well as the virtues and flaws of the others. On the other hand, one who is not intelligent fails to realise his drawbacks but acknowledges his virtues alone. One who is intelligent maintains an intense aversion towards his flaws and eradicates them. Also if some sadhu were to tell him about eradicating his flaws, he would accept that advice as beneficial. As a result egotism, jealousy, etc. would not remain in him." 10
Way To Remain Calm
Muktanand Swami asked, "How can one remain calm and collected even under the influence of lust, anger, avarice and fear?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied, "When one realises that one's true identity is atma which is distinct from one's body and when this realisation becomes extremely firm, one never loses one's composure. On the other hand, a person without realisation may try many other means, but he cannot remain composed." 11 But one may wonder how can atma be realised? Bhagwan Swaminarayan says, "It is impossible to see atma without the upasana and meditation of God's form. In fact, wishing to see the atma without upasana is like attempting to lick the sky with one's tongue; even if one tries for a hundred years, one will never be able to taste it as sour or salty. Similarly, the atma cannot be seen without the upasana of God's form regardless of the efforts one may resort to." 12
Atma's Realisation And Death
Brahmanad Swami asked, "To what extent does realisation of atma actually help at the time of death?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied, " When faced with the task of crossing a river, one who knows to swim can cross it, whereas one who is unable to swim will be left standing . However, when faced with the task of crossing an ocean, both require the aid of a ship. Similarly, a river in the form of hunger and thirst, honour and insult, happiness and misery may be crossed by a person with realisation of the atma; death, however is like an ocean. In that case, both a person with atma's realisation and one without it, require the help of a ship in form of faith in God. Therefore, only the firm refuge of God is helpful at the time of death, whereas atma's realisation alone is of no use whatsoever at the time of death. For this reason one should firmly cultivate faith in God." 13
Muktanand Swami asked, "How can one know whether one's mind has been conquered?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied, "When the indriyas withdraw from the worldly panchvishays, i.e., worldly sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch, and no desire to indulge in those vishays remain, then all of the indriyas are said to be conquered. Moreover, when the indriyas do not come into contact with the vishays, the mind also does not come into contact with the indriyas, and its vrutti remains within the heart. In this way, one who has shunned the panchvishays with absolute resolution should be known as having conquered one's mind. But if one does have some affection for the vishays, then one has not conquered one's mind."
Again Muktanand Swami asked, "How can vishays be defeated? Is it by vairagya or affection for God?" Then Bhagwan Swaminarayan explained, "One way to defeat vishays is the realisation of atma, and the other is the realisation of God coupled with the knowledge of His greatness. Specifically, the realisation of atma should be as follows: 'I am chaitanya, while the body is jad; I am pure, whereas the body is the embodiment of narak; I am imperishable, while the body is perishable; I am the embodiment of bliss, whereas the body is the embodiment of misery.' In this manner, when one realises the atma to be totally distinct from the body in every way, one will never consider oneself to be the body nor will one harbour affection for vishays. This is how the vishays are subdued through knowledge of the atma.
"Also, one should think of the greatness of God in the following way: 'I am the atma, while the manifest form of the God whom I have attained is Paramatma. I have attained Shri Purushottam Bhagwan in person, the very Purushottam Bhagwan who is the Lord of Golok, Vainkunth, Shwetdwip and Brahmapur, as well as master of Brahma and the other demigods, who themselves are the lords of countless millions of brahmands. That Paramatma forever resides in my atma…Moreover, if one were to gather together all of the pleasures of the vishays of countless millions of brahmands, even then it would not equal even one millionth of a fraction of the bliss which is present in just one pore of God. In fact, in the Moksha-dharma, it is said that the realms of the other demigods are like narak compared to the Akshardham of God. It is that very God whom I have attained in His incarnated form. So how can I possibly discard Him and wish for the pleasures of the vishyas, which are like the pits of narak? In fact, the pleasures of the vishays are nothing but the embodiment of misery.' So the vishays can be subdued by realising God's greatness in this manner.
"The vairagya generated by such knowledge of atma and Paramatma is such that it eradicates desires of the pleasures of all vishays. A person who has shunned the pleasures of the vishays by cultivating an understanding in this way never again develops affection for the vishays. Only such a person's mind can be said to be conquered." 14
Good Efforts Always Elevate
A devotee named Dinanath Bhatt asked, "What will become of a person who, despite attempting to eradicate the desires in one's mind, fails to conquer the mind?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied," If a person wins, then he will attain nirvikalp samadhi and he will become an ekantik bhakta of God. But if he should lose, his efforts will not have been in vain because after one life or two lives or even after many lives, ultimately, he will become an ekantik bhakta. Thus, a person who is wise should definitely develop enmity towards his mind for the sake of his liberation. Thereby, if he conquers his mind, he is sure to benefit but even if he is defeated, he will eventually return to the path of realisation, which is also beneficial in the end." 15
Love for God
Sachchidanand Swami had intense love for Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Whenever the Lord would go away from him for satsang tours, he would experience intense pain. And sometimes blood would ooze out of his skin. Just to make sure whether such a phenomenon characterises true love or not he asks, "What are the characteristics of a person who has affection for God?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied, "A person who has affection for God would never disobey God's commands. He would only act according to God's wishes." 16
Way To Profound Bliss
Brahmanand Swami asked a question which refers to an advanced state of spirituality, "Suppose there is a person whose senses are not drawn towards any of the worldly objects nor do vicious thoughts arise in his mind. He also has absolute faith in God. Despite this, though a feeling of unfulfillment remains and he feels despondent within. What can be the reason for this?" Giving four reasons Bhagwan Swaminaryan says,
1. "Such a person should appreciate the fact that God, out of compassion, has revealed his incarnate form to him.
2. He should also appreciate the fact that God has freed him from lust, anger and all of the other vicious natures whereas the worldly people are constantly being troubled by lust, anger avarice, infatuation, arrogance, jealousy and also and
3. He should remind himself of his good fortune that he has been placed in the company of sadhus like Narad and Sankadiks.
4. He should not look at the faults of other devotees but look at their virtues alone.If a person behaves in this way he will experience profound happiness in his heart and will always remain extremely blissful." 17
One That Includes All
Muktanand Swami asked, "Which is the one spiritual endeavour, for God's devotee who has taken the path of bhakti that incorporates all other endeavours for liberation?" Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied, "Keeping the company by thought, word and deed, of a Sant, who possesses the 30 attributes of a sadhu, incorporates all of the spiritual endeavours for attaining liberation." 18
Bhagwan Swaminarayan says that God is the goal. To reach that goal one needs to become brahmrup because only one who is brahmrup becomees competent to worship God. And one needs to please God. For pleasing God He prescribes four endeavours: andwhich together are called can be attained by the company of an or And also one should shun bad company in any form even if one is spiritually advanced.
1. Mahabharat, Bhishmaparva, 62-34.
2. Vachanamrut (Vachanamrut), Gadhada II-16.
3. Mahabharat, Bhishmaparva, 62-34.
4. Vachanamrut , Gadhada II-62.
5. Ibid. Gadhada I-55.
6. Ibid. Gadhada I-1.
7. Ibid. Gadhada I-49.
8. Ibid. Loya 1.
9. Ibid. Gadhada I-4.
10. Ibid. Panchala 3.
11. Ibid. Gadhada I-61.
12. Ibid. Gadhada III-36.
13. Ibid. Gadhada I-61.
14. Ibid. Sarangpur 1.
15. Ibid. Vartal 1.
16. Ibid. Kariyani 11.
17. Ibid. Gadhada I-24.
18. Ibid. Vartal 4.
Many of the quotes of Bhagwan Swaminarayan mentioned in the article are paraphrased.