A common cause of strife in the household is divergent viewpoints on issues that are sometimes of great importance – such as finances, matrimony and career planning – but at other times are ordinary – such as planning family outings and the implementation of house rules. The Vachanamrut offers a solution to such conflicts by arguing that mutual respect should include regard for each other’s thoughts, desires, and decisions. In the context of family life, this respect entails setting aside stubbornness and being willing to compromise.
In this light, in Kariyani 11, Maharaj puts forth that such compromise is a defining characteristic of true love. In Gadhada III 16, he similarly defines fidelity, saying that a loyal wife acts according to her husband’s wishes. This example, though it describes a faithful wife, is one that Maharaj and the Gunatit guru parampara have expanded to say that all members of the family should be willing to set aside their desires and compromise according to their loved one’s wishes.
Another key factor contributing to family unity is chastity. People consecrate wedding ceremonies with vows of fidelity and hopes of living happily ever after. Yet, unchecked desires often shatter such pledges and lead to split families. In fact, in many developed countries, about half of marriages end up in divorce or separation, with many such rifts occurring due to adultery.
In the Vachanamrut, Maharaj offers several solutions to this burning problem. One such solution, presented in Gadhada I 72, suggests that people should never take advantage of unbalanced power dynamics. This sociological phenomenon has been at the crux of many of the violations that have come to light under the Me Too movement. Certainly, people who are party to such relationships often fall into relationships that lead to breaches in their marital vows. In this Vachanamrut, Maharaj explains that it is a grave sin to capitalize on such situations. In this way, he guides us away from indulgence and encourages us to remain faithful to our vows.
A second way in which Maharaj promotes chastity appears in Gadhada III 16, wherein he advises women to respect their vows by harbouring singular devotion towards their husbands. In Gadhada II 3, he advises men to do the same, saying that they should regard women other than their wives as mothers, sisters and daughters. The same advice can be extended to women, who can be advised to see men other than their husbands as fathers, brothers and sons.
Maharaj thus offers a solution that neutralizes interactions with members of the opposite gender and thus protects the sanctity of both marital vows and relationships with others.
A third remedy to preserving chastity is a physical practice that Maharaj describes in Gadhada II 35. Indeed, people are most susceptible to infidelity when they are in solitude. Therefore, Maharaj advises both men and women to avoid staying in isolation with people of the opposite gender who are not their spouses. In this manner, Maharaj exhorts us to stay away from situations that may lead to us faltering in our vows.
The Vachanamrut thus offers a great deal of guidance for families, ranging from issues such as mutual respect and tolerance to compromise, fidelity and chastity.
Along with helping us improve our academic and family lives, the Vachanamrut also guides us ahead on the spiritual path. In this respect, the Vachanamrut is like a beacon for those lost at sea.
From the time we join satsang, we have a burning desire to progress. Often, though, we are unclear about what it means to progress in satsang; we thus often wrongly equate worldly progress with spiritual progress. Namely, we rely on external signs such as our seva roles to gauge our development, believing that receiving duties that are administratively significant are reflective of spiritual growth.
Maharaj, however, defines spiritual progress quite differently in Gadhada I 28, wherein he says, “When a person is likely to progress in satsang, pure desires steadily flourish within him. Day by day, he sees only virtues in all satsangis. He views all devotees as superior to himself and considers himself to be insignificant. Moreover, he experiences the bliss of satsang in his heart 24 hours a day. Such characteristics indicate that pure desires have flourished. The more such a person practises satsang, the more he benefits; and eventually, he attains profound greatness.” Maharaj thus defines advancement in satsang as a cognitive process focused on developing humility and purity and experiencing inner joy. By offering such a clear definition of progress, he helps us refine our perspectives and come to focus on the fundamentals of satsang.
No matter how focused a person is on satsang’s core values, though, a formidable obstacle for all is kusang. Accordingly, Maharaj helps us safeguard our spiritual progress first by helping us identify kusang and then describing what happens to us if we are not careful to veer away from its influence. Maharaj defines kusang in Vachanamrut Gadhada I 48 as company that causes us to falter in our niyams, upasana, and faith in God.
Maharaj further explains that, along with avoiding kusang, fostering spiritual progress requires profound association with the Satpurush. Association, he says in Gadhada II 31, involves contemplating the Satpurush’s divine virtues, which leads to the development of redemptive qualities in one’s life. Maharaj explains, “If one associates with Brahman through continuous contemplation in this manner, the jiva acquires the virtues of that Brahman.” Maharaj elaborates on the process of contemplation in several Vachanamruts, one of which is Gadhada I 67. In this Vachanamrut, he says we should compare ourselves to the Satpurush by reflecting on his innate divine qualities and setting them against our worldly dispositions. In this way, while comparing ourselves to the Satpurush, the pain that we experience for being satsangis with such drawbacks will lead us to strive to develop qualities like those of the Satpurush.
The Vachanamrut thus helps us secure progress in satsang by advising us to focus on satsang’s fundamentals, stay away from kusang and associate with the Satpurush.
In the preceding sections, we understood how the Vachanamrut offers solutions to problems that we face in school, at home, and in our spiritual lives. Nonetheless, our considerations here have been reflected merely in words. One may ask, though, “Is it possible to live by the teachings of the Vachanamrut in today’s world?”
Gratefully, we have with us the satpurush, who is the manifest form of both Shrii Maharaj and the Vachanamrut itself, and who lives the Vachanamrut every second of his life. Maharaj has said that the essence of the shastras can only be understood and imbibed from such a person. With this in mind, let us endeavour to comprehend the wisdom of the Vachanamrut and live by the principles therein.