This third article discusses the imagery of the Vachanamrut. In all, there are about 497 analogies and anecdotes in the Vachanamrut, incorporating a variety of fields, such as, stories from the Purans and other shastras, agriculture, laundering, animal husbandry, cooking, embroidery, perfumery, warfare, forces of nature, management, diplomacy, Ayurveda, surgery, psychology, cosmic phenomena, astrophysics and many others.
The majority of devotees in the Vachanamrut’s discourses were peasants. Only a few were learned householders like Dinanath Bhatt, Chimanrao Shastri and Shobharam Shastri. Erudite ascetics included Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami, Muktanand Swami, Nityanand Swami, Gopalanand Swami, Shatanand Swami, Brahmanand Swami and other paramhansas. This mixture of the lay and learned would pose a dilemma for any person in explaining profound philosophical concepts and imparting spiritual wisdom. However, Bhagwan Swaminarayan was a teacher who understood the human heart. He therefore amply sprinkled his discourses with anecdotes and analogies, which both groups could easily grasp and identify with. Hence he communicated effectively.
In Vachanamrut Gadhada II 12 Maharaj gives an analogy called rajniti – polity of ruling a kingdom – in which he likens the jiva to a king: “If the king did not know the art of ruling, the people would not obey his orders; rather, they would begin to beat him. Then, his country would become desolate, or he himself would behave miserably because no one would obey his rule.… Similarly, if the jiva were to attempt to rule the kingdom in the form of the body without understanding the art of ruling, then it would never become happy.”
The sadhak should always remain vigilant; to prevent the mind from falsely attributing faults in Bhagwan and the Satpurush.
In Gadhada II 57, Maharaj talks about the necessity of developing atmanishtha to help prevent oneself from projecting mayik attributes (doshas) in Bhagwan. He uses the common example of the ever vigilant gecko, gobbling up insects near a divo: “When a gecko comes near the light of a lamp, it kills any insect that comes near the light. In the same way, the thought that rests within the light of the atma destroys everything apart from the atma.”
The unpredictable nature of our senses, no matter how great one’s control over them, can only be appreciated in its entirety by an eternal siddha like Shriji Maharaj.
In Panchala 3, he advocates treating the indriyas as enemies, with the analogy of how a king treats his enemies: “One should uproot the indriyas, antahkaran and vishays from the jiva and develop love for Bhagwan – only that is appropriate. As long as one has not uprooted them, one should extract work from them in the form of the darshan, touch, etc., of Bhagwan… they should not be regarded as one’s benefactors – instead, they should be regarded as enemies… a king who has captured his enemy keeps him chained and extracts work from him; never does the king free him or trust him. If he were to free him or trust him, then the enemy would definitely kill the king. In the same way, if one trusts one’s enemies in the form of the indriyas and frees them, not keeping them confined, they will definitely make one fall from the path of Bhagwan.
Maharaj then gives another analogy: “For example, if one spark of fire were to fall on a large heap of gunpowder, then that gunpowder would be completely reduced to ashes. Similarly, such a person’s stability is not certain.”
By using such imagery, Maharaj effectively convinces the aspirant to be ever vigilant of his mind and indriyas.
The nature of base instincts such as anger, jealousy, ego and others is difficult to understand, more so by the aspirant. A few of Maharaj’s descriptions of such instincts are given here.
Maharaj greatly dislikes one who harbours ill will for a devotee or holds a grudge against him. Some powerful analogies are used to describe a grudge and anger.
In Kariyani 9, Maharaj poses a question about holding a grudge like a pado – male buffalo – against someone. Padas are well known for holding grudges.
In Loya 1, Maharaj likens anger to the lethal saliva of a rabid dog. He further likens anger to a butcher, an assassin, a tiger, a leopard and a venomous snake. Their common factor is their violent ability to kill.
Shuk Muni then asks whether even a tinge of anger is harmful. Maharaj dramatises his answer: “If a snake were to appear in this assembly at this moment, then even if it does not bite anyone, everyone would still have to rise and scatter; there would be panic in everyone’s heart. Furthermore, if a tiger were to come and roar on the outskirts of a village, then even if it does not harm anyone, all would be stricken with terror and no one would come out of his home. Similarly, even if a trace of anger were to arise, it would still be a source of extreme misery” (Loya 1).
Ego is another of man’s notorious instincts; the source of many of his miseries. All his activities are fuelled by his desire to be appreciated, to boost his ego. Surprisingly, ego surfaces even in devotional worship to Bhagwan, as revealed so succinctly and satirically by Maharaj in Gadhada II 41. He uses an example which is commonly seen by village people: “The nature of a person, however, is such that he only enjoys doing that which satisfies his ego. Without that, he does not enjoy performing even bhakti of Bhagwan. For example, a dog takes a dry bone to an isolated place to chew on. As a result of the chewing, its mouth is abraded and the bone becomes covered in blood. Then, licking the bone, the dog becomes overjoyed. But little does the fool realize, ‘The taste that I am enjoying is that of blood from my own mouth’.”
In any endeavour in life, constant effort is the key to success.
In Gadhada I 23, Maharaj talks about the importance of offering uninterrupted bhajan – worship to Bhagwan. But if one engages in worldly activities at one time and then tries to do bhajan at another time, then he will not be able to establish a constant rapport with Bhagwan. For this, constant effort is desirable.
Maharaj then gives the analogy of pouring a potful of water irregularly in one place to create a pool of water: “Consider, for example, a pot that is filled with water and emptied somewhere. If another pot of water is subsequently emptied at the same place on the following day or the day after that, a pool of water will not collect there.…On the other hand, if a trickle of water were to flow continuously, a large pool of water would soon be formed.”
In Gadhada II 33, Maharaj advocates incessant endeavour to remove one’s insuperable instincts of passion, anger, covetousness and others, by giving a different analogy, familiar to those present, who fetch water from a well: “Due to the daily drawing of water from a well, the constant rubbing of even a soft rope can cause a groove in the very hard rock on the edge of that well. Similarly, for one who is a sadhu and who continuously remains active in his efforts for eradicating his swabhavs, how long can those swabhavs remain? They most certainly will be destroyed.”
In the same vein, how can one be freed from a cursed buddhi – one which induces him to constantly find faults in Bhagwan and his Sadhu? In Kariyani 2, Maharaj takes the opportunity of using the immediate surroundings of the assembly, to select a suitable example (his garments), to support his answer, as he did in Panchala 1 – about the torch: “This piece of cloth which I wear on my head and a thick cloth like a carpet, cannot be washed with the same effort. Why? Because this thin cloth is cleaned immediately by washing it with only a small amount of soap. On the other hand, to wash a thick cloth, it must be soaked in water for two to four days, then boiled over a fire; only then, after it is washed with soap, does it become clean. Similarly, if a person whose intellect is cursed, observes niyams only to the extent that everyone else does, then that flaw will not be eradicated.”