KUSANG (BAD COMPANY)
In Gadhada I 18, in order to stress the importance of avoiding kusang on the spiritual path, Maharaj vivifies convincingly: “If he sits in a gathering of materialistic people in a lavish seven-storey haveli decorated with beautiful mirrors and comfortable seats, and if those materialistic people are seated wearing various types of jewellery and fine clothes, and are exchanging liquor amongst themselves, with prostitutes performing vulgar dances to the accompaniment of various musical instruments – then the person’s antahkaran will unquestionably be adversely affected… Therefore, if one thoughtfully examines the influence of good company and evil company on the antahkaran, their effects can be realized.”
NATURE OF THE MIND
To keep the mind occupied, Maharaj uses an example which is familiar to the common peasant, which involves flowers and seeds. Maharaj then links this to recollecting the episodes of Bhagwan’s lila, to subdue the mind.
“The mind is saturated with desires for the world. But, in the manner in which sesame seeds are imbued with scent by padding them between alternating layers of flowers, the mind should be similarly saturated with flowers in the form of the constant remembrance of Bhagwan’s divine actions and incidents – coupled with an understanding of his greatness. The mind should constantly be entangled in a web in the form of these divine actions and incidents of Bhagwan, and thoughts relating to Bhagwan should be constantly conceived in the mind” (Gadhada I 38).
The desire to enjoy the panchvishays is never-ending. For example, we know that after relishing a food item that we are really fond of, such as, ice cream, in as much quantity as we like, we feel contented. Yet the next day, the craving to eat ice cream remains. The same principle holds true for the other vishays of touch, sight, smell and hearing. One is never contented and the desires remain ever more powerful. Total and lasting fulfilment never results by succumbing to and palliating our desires. Shriji Maharaj explains: Craving for the panchvishays for fulfilment by enjoying them, is like trying to pour water into a fissure which has opened up in the ground, reaching into the bowels of the earth. It will never be filled. Similarly, the indriyas will never be satiated even with the utmost enjoyment of the sense-objects (Gadhada II 47).
ANALOGY OF SWEET MILK AND SNAKE VENOM
Maharaj uses the analogy of milk and snake venom in six different ways. The gravity of what he wishes to convey through this analogy, firmly penetrates devotees sitting in the assembly.
In Gadhada I 35, Maharaj compares the venom to finding faults in Bhagwan and his Sadhu, thus poisoning the otherwise great intellect of a devotee.
In Loya 10, Maharaj makes a subtle concept lucid. He says that when the jiva fully realizes the repugnance of the worldly charms, he then ceases to be attracted by them, just as one who sees snake venom falling in sweet milk will be repelled by it.
Throughout the Vachanamrut, Maharaj reveals his immense dislike of one with ego. In Loya 17, he compares the ego-conscious devotee to a man drinking milk laced with snake venom: “He who identifies his self with the body will definitely bear contempt for the sadhu and will eventually fall from Satsang – either after one month or two months; after one year or two years or even ten years; or maybe at the time of death or even after death – he will certainly fall” (Loya 17).
“After his death” means that the ego will be hampering the jiva’s spiritual progress even in the births that follow.
One who has no knowledge of Bhagwan’s glory and greatness is not able to liberate anyone and one should not even listen to his discourses. Maharaj calls him, ‘spiritually impotent’ in Vartal 12. Those who listen to such a person are likened to drinking poisoned milk and liable to fall from the spiritual path.
In Gadhada III 12, Maharaj compares devotees who have excessive attachment towards their relations to the saliva of a snake. The attachment will surely hamper the devotee’s spiritual progress
Finally, Maharaj explains in Gadhada III 19 that, though one may not be attached to his relatives, one can get attached to someone nursing him during illness. This attachment is also likened to venom in milk. It will disturb his devotion to Bhagwan.
A close look at the above examples shows Maharaj’s creativity in using one simple analogy to convey six different concepts, all vitally important for the spiritual progress of a devotee and easily understood by him. In the foregoing analogies, Shriji Maharaj derives one concept using one analogy, a straightforward and common teaching method. However when he draws several different concepts from the same analogy in different Vachanamruts, we are forced to bow down to his supranormal ingenuity.
These examples are just a few from the treasure trove of analogies that Maharaj used in his discourses. He also used analogies in a series of letters collectively known as Vedras – nectar of the Vedas, written exclusively to his paramhansas and elaborating the panch vartmans. Vedras is replete with imagery, with an average of one analogy every fourth sentence.
From the examples of imagery discussed, one can appreciate Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s immense knowledge. In addition, he possessed a phenomenal flair in using simple imagery to simplify abstruse philosophical truths and imparting them in a form understandable to the layman.