The three essentials of Hinduism are belief in God, in the Vedas as revelation, in the doctrine of Karma and transmigration.
If one studies the Vedas between the lines, one sees a religion of harmony.
One point of difference between Hinduism and other religions is that in Hinduism we pass from truth to truth—from a lower truth to a higher truth—and never from error to truth.
The Vedas should be studied through the eye-glass of evolution. They contain the whole history of the progress of religious consciousness, until religion has reached perfection in unity.
The Vedas are Anadi, eternal. The meaning of the statement is not, as is erroneously supposed by some, that the words of the Vedas are Anadi, but that the spiritual laws inculcated by the Vedas are such. These laws which are immutable and eternal have been discovered at various times by great men or Rishis, though some of them are forgotten now, while others are preserved.
When a number of people from various angles and distances have a look at the sea, each man sees a portion of it according to his horizon. Though each man may say that what he sees is the real sea, all of them speak the truth, for all of them see portions of the same wide expanse. So the religious scriptures, though they seem to contain varying and conflicting statements, speak the truth, for they are all descriptions of that one infinite Reality.
When one sees a mirage for the first time, he mistakes it for a reality, and after vainly trying to quench his thirst in it, learns that it is a mirage. But whenever he sees such a phenomenon in future, in spite of the apparent reality, the idea that he sees a mirage always presents itself to him. So is the world of Maya to a Jivanmukta (the liberated in life).
Some of the Vedic secrets were known to certain families only, as certain powers naturally exist in some families. With the extinction of these families, those secrets have died away.
Vedic anatomy was no less perfect than the Ayurvedic.
There were many names for many parts of the organs, because they had to cut up animals for sacrifice. The sea is described as full of ships. Sea voyage was prohibited later on, partly because there came the fear that people might thereby become Buddhists.
Buddhism was the rebellion of newly-formed Kshatriyas against Vedic priestcraft.
Hinduism threw away Buddhism after taking its sap. The attempt of all the Southern Acharyas was to effect a reconciliation between the two. Shankaracharya’s teaching shows the influence of Buddhism. His disciples perverted his teaching and carried it to such an extreme point that some of the later reformers were right in calling the Acharya’s followers “crypto-buddhists”.
Western philosophers are like vultures soaring high in the sky, but all the while, with their eye fixed on the carrion beneath. They cannot cross the unknown, and they therefore turn back and worship the almighty dollar.
There have been two lines of progress in this world—political and religious. In the former the Greeks are everything, the modern political institutions being only the development of the Grecian; in the latter the Hindus are everything.
My religion is one of which Christianity is an offshoot and Buddhism a rebel child.
Chemistry ceases to improve when one element is found from which all others are deductible. Physics ceases to progress when one force is found of which all others are manifestations. So religion ceases to progress when unity is reached, which is the case with Hinduism.
There is no new religious idea preached anywhere which is not found in the Vedas.
In everything, there are two kinds of development—analytical and synthetical. In the former the Hindus excel other nations. In the latter they are nil.
The Hindus have cultivated the power of analysis and abstraction. No nation has yet produced a grammar like that of Panini.
Ramanuja’s important work is the conversion of Jains and Buddhists to Hinduism. He is a great advocate of image-worship. He introduced love and faith as potent means of salvation.
Even in the Bhagavata, twenty-four Avatars are mentioned corresponding to the twenty-four Tirthankaras of the Jains, the name of Rishabhadeva being common to both.
The practice of Yoga gives the power of abstraction. The superiority of a Siddha over others consists in his being able to separate attributes from objects and think of them independently, giving them objective reality.
Extremely nervous men succeed as religious men. They become fervent over whatever they take into their head. “All are mad in this world; some are mad after gold, others after women, and some are after God; if drowning is to be the fate of man, it is better to be drowned in an ocean of milk than in a pool of dung”, a devotee replied who was charged with madness.
The God of Infinite Love and the object of Love sublime and infinite are painted blue. Krishna is painted blue, so also Solomon’s God of Love. It is a natural law that anything sublime and infinite is associated with blue colour. Take a handful of water, it is absolutely colourless. But look at the deep wide ocean; it is as blue as anything. Examine the space near you; it is colourless. But look at the infinite expanse of the sky; it is blue.
That the Hindus, absorbed in the ideal, lacked in realistic observation is evident from this. Take painting and sculpture. What do you see in the Hindu paintings? All sorts of grotesque and unnatural figures. What do you see in a Hindu temple? A Chaturbhanga Narayana or some such thing. But take into consideration any Italian picture or Grecian statue—what a study of nature you find in them! A gentleman for twenty years sat burning a candle in his hand, in order to paint a lady carrying a candle in her hand.
The Hindus progressed in the subjective sciences.
There are as many different conducts taught in the Vedas as there are differences in human nature. What is taught to an adult cannot be taught to a child.
A Guru should be a doctor of men. He should understand the nature of his disciple and teach him the method which suits him best.
There are infinite ways of practicing Yoga. Certain methods have produced successful result with certain men. But two are of general importance with all: (1) Reaching the reality by negativing every known experience, (2) Thinking that you are everything, the whole universe. The second method, though it leads to the goal sooner than the first, is not the safest one. It is generally attended with great dangers which may lead a man astray and deter him from obtaining his aim.
There is this difference between the love taught by Christianity and that taught by Hinduism: Christianity teaches us to love our neighbours as we should wish them to love us; Hinduism asks us to love them as ourselves, in fact to see ourselves in them.
A mongoose is generally kept in a glass-case with a long chain attached to it, so that it may go about freely. When itscents danger as it wanders about, with one jump it goes into the glass case. So is a Yogi in this world.
The Vedas are full of passages which prove the existence of a Personal God. The Rishis, who through long devotion saw God, had a peep into the unknown and threw their challenge to the world. It is only presumptuous men, who have not walked in the path described by the Rishis and who have not followed their teachings, that criticise them and oppose them. No man has yet come forward who would dare to say that he has properly followed their directions and has not seen anything and that these men are liars. There are men who have been under trial at various times and have felt that they have not been forsaken by God. The world is such that if faith in God does not offer us any consolation, it is better to commit suicide.
A pious missionary went out on business. All of a sudden his three sons died of cholera. His wife covered the three dead bodies of her beloved children with a sheet and was awaiting her husband at the gate. When he returned, she detained him at the gate and put him the question, “My dear husband, some one entrusts something to you and in your absence suddenly takes it back. Will you feel sorry?” He replied, “Certainly I would not”. Then she took him in, removed the sheet and showed the three corpses. He bore this calmly and buried the bodies. Such is the strength of mind of those who hold firm faith in the existence of an all-merciful God who disposes of everything in the universe.
The Absolute can never be thought of. We can have no idea of a thing unless it is finite. God the infinite can only be conceived and worshipped as the finite.
John the Baptist was an Essene—a sect of Buddhists. The Christian cross is nothing but the Shivalinga converted into two across. Remnants of Buddhist worship are still to be found among the relics of ancient Rome.
In South India, some of the Ragas (tunes) are sung and remembered as independent Ragas, whereas they are derivations of the six primary ones. In their music, there is very little of Murchhana, or oscillating touches of sound.
Even the use of the perfect instrument of music is rare. The Vina of the South is not the real Vina. We have no martial music, no martial poetry either. Bhavabhuti is a little martial.
All sectarian religions take for granted that all men are equal. This is not warranted by science. There is more difference between minds than between bodies. One fundamental doctrine of Hinduism is that all men are different, there being unity in variety. Even for a drunkard, there are some Mantras—even for a man going to a prostitute!
Morality is a relative term. Is there anything like absolute morality in this world? The idea is a superstition. We have no right to judge every man in every age by the same standard.
Every man, in every age, in every country is under peculiar circumstances. If the circumstances change, ideas also must change. Beef-eating was once moral. The climate was cold, and the cereals were not much known. Meat was the chief food available. So in that age and clime, beef was in a manner indispensable. But beef-eating is held to be immoral now.
The one thing unchangeable is God. Society is moving.
Jagat (world) means that which is moving. God is Achala (immovable).
What I say is not, “Reform”, but, “Move on”. Nothing is too bad to reform. Adaptability is the whole mystery of life—the principle underneath which serves to unfold it. Adjustment or adaptation is the outcome of the Self pitted against external forces tending to suppress It. He who adjusts himself best lives the longest. Even if I do not preach this, society is changing, it must change. It is not Christianity nor science, it is necessity, that is working underneath, the necessity that people must have to live or starve.
Every worship consists of prayer in the highest form. For a man who cannot make Dhyana or mental worship, Puja or ceremonial worship is necessary. He must have the thing concrete.
The brave alone can afford to be sincere. Compare the lion and the fox.
Loving only the good in God and nature—even a child does that. You should love the terrible and the painful as well. A father loves the child, even when he is giving him trouble.
Shri Krishna was God, incarnated to save mankind. Gopi-lila (his disport with cowherd maids) is the acme of the religion of love in which individuality vanishes and there is communion. It is in this Lila that Shri Krishna shows what he preaches in the Gita: “Give up every other tie for me.” Go and take shelter under Vrindavana-Lila to understand Bhakti. On this subject a great number of books is extant. It is the religion of India. The larger number of Hindus follow Shri Krishna.
Shri Krishna is the God of the poor, the beggar, the sinner, the son, the father, the wife, and of everyone. He enters intimately into all our human relations and makes everything holy and in the end brings us to salvation. He is the God who hides himself from the philosopher and the learned and reveals himself to the ignorant and the children. He is the God of faith and love and not of learning. With the Gopis, love and God were the same thing—they knew Him to be love incarnate.
In Dwaraka, Shri Krishna teaches duty; in Vrindavana, love. He allowed his sons to kill each other, they being wicked.
God, according to the Jewish and Mohammedan idea, is a big Session Judge. Our God is rigorous on the surface, but loving and merciful at heart.
There are some who do not understand Advaitism and make a travesty of its teachings. They say, “What is Shuddha and Ashuddha (pure and impure)—what is the difference between virtue and vice? It is all human superstition”, and observe no moral restraint in their actions. It is downright roguery; and any amount of harm is done by the preaching of such things.
This body is made up of two sorts of Karma consisting of virtue and vice—injurious vice and non-injurious virtue. A thorn is pricking my body, and I take another thorn to take it out and then throw both away. A man desiring to be perfect takes a thorn of virtue and with it takes off the thorn of vice. He still lives, and virtue alone being left, the momentum of action left to him must be of virtue. A bit of holiness is left to the Jivanmukta, and he lives, but everything he does must be holy.
Virtue is that which tends to our improvement, and vice to our degeneration. Man is made up of three qualities—brutal, human, and godly. That which tends to increase the divinity in you is virtue, and that which tends to increase brutality in you is vice. You must kill the brutal nature and become human, that is, loving and charitable. You must transcend that too and become pure bliss, Sachchidananda, fire without burning, wonderfully loving, but without the weakness of human love, without the feeling of misery.
Bhakti is divided into Vaidhi and Raganuga Bhakti.
Vaidhi Bhakti is implicit belief in obedience to the teachings of the Vedas.
Raganuga Bhakti is of five kinds:
(1) Shanta as illustrated by the religion of Christ;
(2) Dasya as illustrated by that of Hanuman to Rama;
(3) Sakhya as illustrated by that of Arjuna to Shri Krishna; (4) Vatsalya as illustrated by that of Vasudeva to Shri Krishna; (5) Madhura (that of the husband and wife) in the lives of Shri Krishna and the Gopikas.
Keshab Chandra Sen compared society to an ellipse. God is the central sun. Society is sometimes in the aphelion and sometimes in the perihelion. An Avatar comes and takes it to the perihelion. Then it goes back again. Why should it be so? I cannot say. What necessity for an Avatara? What necessity was there to create? Why did He not create us all perfect? It is Lila (sport), we do not know.
Men can become Brahman but not God. If anybody becomes God, show me his creation. Vishvamitra’s creation is his own imagination. It should have obeyed Vishvamitra’s law. If anybody becomes a Creator, there would be an end of the world, on account of the conflict of laws. The balance is so nice that if you disturb the equilibrium of one atom, the whole world will come to an end.
There were great men—so great that no number nor human arithmetic could state the difference between them and us. But compared with God, they were geometrical points. In comparison with the Infinite, everything is nothing. Compared with God, what is Vishvamitra but a human moth?
Patanjali is the father of the theory of evolution, spiritual and physical.
Generally the organism is weaker than the environment. It is struggling to adjust itself. Sometimes it over-adjusts itself. Then the whole body changes into another species. Nandi was a man whose holiness was so great that the human body could not contain it. So those molecules changed into a god-body.
The tremendous engine of competition will destroy everything. If you are to live at all, you must adjust yourself to the times. If we are to live at all, we must be a scientific nation. Intellectual power is the force. You must learn the power of organisation of the Europeans. You must become educated and must educate your women. You must abolish child marriage.
All these ideas are floating over society. You all know it, yet dare not act. Who is to bell the cat? In the fullness of time a wonderful man will come. Then all the rats will be made bold.
Whenever a great man comes, the circumstances are ready under his feet. He is the last straw to break the camel’s back. He is the spark of the cannon. There is something in the talking—we are preparing for him.
Was Krishna cunning? No, he was not cunning. He tried his best to prevent war. It was Duryodhana who forced the war. But, when once in the thing, you should not recede—that is the man of duty. Do not run away, it is cowardice. When in the thing, you must do it. You should not budge an inch—of course not for a wrong thing; this was a righteous war.
The devil comes in many guises—anger in the form of justice—passion in the form of duty. When it first comes, the man knows and then he forgets. Just as your pleaders’ conscience; at first they know it is all Badmashi (roguery), then it is duty to their clients; at last they get hardened.
Yogis live on the banks of the Narmada—the best place for them, because the climate is very even. Bhaktas live in Vrindavana.
Sipahis (sepoys) die soon—nature is full of defect—the athletes die soon. The gentlemen class are the strongest, while the poor are the hardiest. Fruit diet may agree with a costive man. Civilised man needs rest for intellectual work. For food he has to take spices and condiments. The savage walks forty or fifty miles a day. He relishes the blandest foods.
Our fruits are all artificial, and the natural mango is a poor affair. Wheat also is artificial.
Save the spiritual store in your body by observing continence.
The rule for a householder about the expenditure of his income is, one-fourth of the income for his family, one-fourth for charity, one-fourth to be saved, one-fourth for self.
Unity in variety is the plan of creation, individuality in universality.
Why deny the cause only? Deny the effect also. The cause must contain everything that is in the effect.
Christ’s public life extended only over eighteen months, and for this he had silently been preparing himself for thirty-two years. Mohammed was forty years old before he came out.
Refer to the life of the author of Krishna-karnamrita, Vilvamangala—a devotee who plucked his eyes out because he could not see God. His life illustrates the principle that even misdirected love leads in the end to love proper.
Too early religious advancement of the Hindus and that superfineness in everything which made them cling to higher alternatives, have reduced them to what they are. The Hindus have to learn a little bit of materialism from the West and teach them a little bit of spirituality.
Educate your women first and leave them to themselves; then they will tell you what reforms are necessary for them. In matters concerning them, who are you?
Who reduced the Bhangis and the Pariahs to their present degraded condition? Heartlessness in our behavior and at the same time preaching wonderful Advaitism—is it not adding insult to injury?
Form and formless are intertwined in this world. The formless can only be expressed in form and form can only be thought with the formless. The world is a form of our thoughts. The idol is the expression of religion.
In God all natures are possible. But we can see Him only through human nature. We can love Him as we love a man—as father, son. The strongest love in the world is that between man and woman, and that also when it is clandestine. This is typified in the love between Krishna and Radha.
Nowhere is it said in the Vedas that man is born a sinner. To say so is a great libel on human nature.
It is not an easy task to reach the state of seeing the Reality face to face. The other day one could not find the hidden cat in a whole picture, though it occupied the major portion of the picture.
Kama (lust) is blind and leads to hell. Prema is love, it leads to heaven.
There is no idea of lust or sympathy in the love of Krishna and Radha. Radha says to Krishna, “If you place your feet on my heart, all lust will vanish.”
When abstraction is reached lust dies and there is only love.
A poet loved a washerwoman. Hot Dal fell upon the feet of the woman and the feet of the poet were scalded.
Shiva is the sublime aspect of God, Krishna the beautiful aspect of God. Love crystallises into blueness. Blue colour is expressive of intense love. Solomon saw “Krishna”. Here Krishna came to be seen by all.
Even now, when you get love, you see Radha. Become Radha and be saved. There is no other way, Christians do not understand Solomon’s song. They call it prophecy symbolising Christ’s love for the Church. They think it nonsense and father some story upon it.
Hindus believe Buddha to be an Avatara.
Hindus believe in God positively. Buddhism does not try to know whether He is or not.
Buddha came to whip us into practice. Be good, destroy the passions. Then you will know for yourself whether Dvaita or Advaita philosophy is true—whether there is one or there are more than one.
Buddha was a reformer of Hinduism.
In the same man the mother sees a son, while the wife at the same time sees differently with different results. The wicked see in God wickedness. The virtuous see in Him virtue. He admits of all forms. He can be moulded according to the imagination of each person. Water assumes various shapes in various vessels. But water is in all of them. Hence all religions are true.
God is cruel and not cruel. He is all being and not being at the same time. Hence He is all contradictions. Nature also is nothing but a mass of contradictions.
You may stop the water flowing out of the fountain by closing that part of the stream and gathering it all in the fountain; you have no liberty beyond it. But the source remains unchanged. Everything is predestination—and a part of that predestination is that you shall have such feeling—the feeling of freedom. I am shaping my own action. Responsibility is the feeling of reaction. There is no absolute power. Power here is the conscious feeling of exercising any faculty which is created by necessity. Man has the feeling “I act”; what he means by power of freedom is the feeling. The power is attended with responsibility. Whatever may be done through us by predestination, we feel the reaction. A ball thrown by one, itself feels the reaction.
But this innate necessity which comes to us as our freedom does not affect also the conscious relations we form with our surroundings. The relativity is not changed. Either everybody is free or everybody is under necessity. That would not matter. The relations would be the same. Vice and virtue would be the same. If a thief pleads that he was under the necessity of stealing, the magistrate would say that he was under the necessity to punish. We are seated in a room, and the whole room is moving—the relation between us is unchanged. To get out of this infinite chain of causation is Mukti (freedom). Muktas (free souls) are not actuated by necessity, they are like god. They begin the chain of cause and effect. God is the only free being—the first source of their will—and is always experienced by them as such.
The feeling of want is the real prayer, not the words. But you must have patience to wait and see if your prayers are answered.
You should cultivate a noble nature by doing your duty. By doing our duty we get rid of the idea of duty; and then and then only we feel everything as done by God. We are but machines in His hand. This body is opaque, God is the lamp. Whatever is going out of the body is God’s. You do not feel it. You feel “I”. This is delusion. You must learn calm submission to the will of God. Duty is the best school for it. This duty is morality. Drill yourself to be thoroughly submissive. Get rid of the “I”. No humbuggism. Then you can get rid of the idea of duty; for all is His. Then you go on naturally, forgiving, forgetting, etc.
Our religion always presents different gradations of duty and religion to different people.
Light is everywhere visible only in the men of holiness. A Mahapurusha is like crystal glass—full rays of God passing and repassing through. Why not worship a Jivanmukta?
Contact with holy men is good. If you go near holy men, you will find holiness overflowing unconsciously in everything there.
Resist not evil done to yourself, but you may resist evil done to others.
If you wish to become a saint, you should renounce all kinds of pleasures. Ordinarily, you may enjoy all, but pray to God for guidance, and He will lead you on.
The universe fills only a small portion of the heart which craves for something beyond and above the world.
Selfishness is the devil incarnate in every man. Every bit of self, bit by bit, is devil. Take off self by one side and God enters by the other. When the self is got rid of, only God remains. Light and darkness cannot remain together.
Forgetting the little “I” is a sign of healthy and pure mind. A healthy child forgets its body.
Sita—to say that she was pure is a blasphemy. She was purity itself embodied—the most beautiful character that ever lived on earth.
A Bhakta should be like Sita before Rama. He might be thrown into all kinds of difficulties. Sita did not mind her sufferings; she centreed herself in Rama.
Present-day Hinduism and Buddhism were growths from the same branch. Buddhism degenerated, and Shankara lopped it off!
Buddha is said to have denied the Vedas because there is so much Himsa (killing) and other things. Every page of Buddhism is a fight with the Vedas (the ritualistic aspect). But he had no authority to do so.
Buddha is expressly agnostic about God; but God is everywhere preached in our religion. The Vedas teach God—both personal and impersonal. God is everywhere preached in the Gita. Hinduism is nothing without God. The Vedas are nothing without Him. That is the only way to salvation. Sannyasins have to repeat the following, several times: I, wishing for Mukti, take refuge in God, who created the world, who breathed out the Vedas.
Buddha, we may say now, ought to have understood the harmony of religions. He introduced sectarianism.
Modern Hinduism, modern Jainism, and Buddhism branched off at the same time. For some period, each seemed to have wanted to outdo the others in grotesqueness and humbuggism.
The fault with all religions like Christianity is that they have one set of rules for all. But Hindu religion is suited to all grades of religious aspiration and progress. It contains all the ideals in their perfect form. For example, the ideal of Shanta or blessedness is to be found in Vasishtha; that of love in Krishna; that of duty in Rama and Sita; and that of intellect in Shukadeva. Study the characters of these and of other ideal men. Adopt one which suits you best.
Follow truth wherever it may lead you; carry ideas to their utmost logical conclusions. Do not be cowardly and hypocritical. You must have a great devotion to your ideal, devotion not of the moment, but calm, persevering, and steady devotion, like that of a Chataka (a kind of bird) which looks into the sky in the midst of thunder and lightening and would drink no water but from the clouds. Perish in the struggle to be holy; a thousand times welcome death. Be not disheartened. When good nectar is unattainable, it is no reason why we should eat poison. There is no escape. This world is as unknown as the other.
Charity never faileth; devotion to an ideal never fails in sympathy, never becomes weary of sympathising with others. Love to enemies is not possible for ordinary men: they drive out others in order to live themselves. Only a very few men lived in the world who practised both. King Janaka was one of them. Such a man is superior even to Sannyasins. Shukadeva, who was purity and renunciation embodied, made Janaka his Guru; and Janaka said to him, “You are a born Siddha; whatever you know and your father taught you, is true. I assure you of this.”
Rishis are discoverers of spiritual laws.
In Advaitism, there is no Jivatma; it is only a delusion. In Dvaitism, there is Jiva infinitely distinct from God. Both are true. One went to the fountain, another to the tank. Apparently we are all Dvaitists as far as our consciousness goes. But beyond? Beyond that we are Advaitists. In reality, this is the only truth. According to Advaitism, love every man as your own Self and not as your brother as in Christianity. Brotherhood should be superseded by universal Selfhood. Not universal brotherhood, but universal Selfhood is our motto. Advaitism may include also the “greatest happiness” theory.
So’ham—I am He. Repeat the idea constantly, voluntarily at first; then it becomes automatic in practice. It percolates to the nerves. So this idea, by rote, by repetition, should be driven even into the nerves.
Or, first begin with Dvaitism that is in your consciousness; second stage, Vishishtadvaitism—”I in you, you in me, and all is God.” This is the teaching of Christ.
The highest Advaitism cannot be brought down to practical life. Advaitism made practical works from the plane of Vishishtadvaitism. Dvaitism—small circle different from the big circle, only connected by Bhakti; Vishishtadvaitism—small circle within big circle, motion regulated by the big circle; Advaitism—small circle expands and coincides with the big circle. In Advaitism “I” loses itself in God. God is here, God is there, God is “I”.
To obtain Bhakti, seek the company of holy men who have Bhakti, and read books like the Gita and the Imitation of Christ; always think of the attributes of God.
The Vedas contain not only the means how to obtain Bhakti but also the means for obtaining any earthly good or evil. Take whatever you want.
Bengal is a land of Bhakti or Bhaktas. The stone on which Chaitanya used to stand in the temple of Jagannatha to see the image was worn by his tears of love and devotion. When he took Sannyasa, he showed his fitness for it to his Guru by keeping sugar on his tongue for some time without its being dissolved. He discovered Vrindavana by the power of insight he had acquired through devotion.
I will tell you something for your guidance in life. Everything that comes from India take as true, until you find congent reasons for disbelieving it. Everything that comes from Europe take as false, until you find congent reasons for believing it. Do not be carried away by European fooleries. Think for yourselves. Only one thing is lacking: you are slaves; you follow whatever Europeans do. That is simply an impotent state of mind. Society may take up materials from any quarter but should grow in its own way.
To be shocked by a new custom is the father of all superstition, the first road to hell. It leads to bigotry and fanaticism. Truth is heaven. Bigotry is hell.