Excerpted from the satsaṅga with Pūjya Swami Dayananda Saraswati held in Oct 2014 at the Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh for a group of CEOs (Part 1 continuation).
Question: Can you please expand further on how to understand that all that is here is Īśvara?
Pujya Swamiji: I said that everything is given. The world is given; the sun is given; the laws are given; my body also is given through parents. The parents don’t have the knowledge of how the body is made, how the eyes are made, how the ears are made etc. They do not have the knowledge. But then, without knowledge, there cannot be an intelligently put together creation, such as the human body. In fact, everything in the universe is intelligently put together. It is an intelligent creation. Therefore, knowledge must be somewhere. There is no other individual who can have all knowledge to create the universe. I say all knowledge. All ears hear; all eyes see; all human minds emote, think, know, get confused, and get clarity. It is all given. The giver is called Īśvara, and the given is not separate from the giver. In this country, you cannot ask the question, ‘where is Bhagavān?’ Even the person in a village who has never gone to school, never studied the śāstra or the Vedas, will laugh at you for asking the question. He will smile and remark, “are you asking for the address of Bhagavān?” All that is here is Bhagavān. That means the giver and the given are both one and the same. If you take the total, the physical order is Bhagavān. That I move, I get up, I sit
– are all because of the physical order. The biological order is Bhagavān. The physiological order is Bhagavān. The psychological order is Bhagavān. The order because of which I know or get confused is also Bhagavān. The various orders govern me. If I look at myself from the view of the total macroscopic orders, I am very much with Bhagavān. I can also then appreciate the fact that all that is here is Īśvara2
Question: During the morning meditation you were saying about bāhyān sparśān bahir kṛtvā, keeping the external objects external. Our children who are now in the ’20s are away from us. They have independent views and have their own lifestyles. However, they do occupy our minds. There is a mix of genuine concern and a sense of responsibility for them. It is definitely not a feeling of frustration. In the context of ‘keeping the external objects external,’ how do we deal with the above situation with the children?
Swamiji: There is no use in getting concerned or frustrated about the children. You have given them some values, and attitudes. So, they will be alright. You believe in them, trust them. They are your children. They will do better. You can pray for them. You need not feel helpless. For inner leisure prayer is a great thing to do.
Question: What is the difference between Īśvara and Brahman or are they the same?
Swamiji: They are one and the same. Brahman with māyā as its upādhi (adjunct) is presented in the śāstra as the cause of the world. That is, Brahman + Maya = Īśvara. The word Īśvara is often used as Jagat kāraṇam, cause of the world3. Brahman also is the cause of the world. How Brahman, which is nirguṇam, free from any attribute, which is Satyam jñānam anantam, can be the cause of the world? It is so because of the māyā upādhi.
Question: If Īśvara is the giver, and that all is given, including one’s karma phala, doesn’t it mean that we are all predestined. Where is the question of one’s free will?
Swamiji: There is both prārabdha (destiny) and puruṣārtha (free will) in one’s life. The fructification of the karma phala due to past karma done with free will is prārabdha which is called destiny. If there is no free will there is no karma. Any karma phala is earned by performing karma exercising one’s free will either in this birth or in previous births. Karma phala is two-fold, dr̥ṣṭaphala, the immediately seen result, and adr̥ṣṭa phala, the unseen result which is in the form of puṇya-pāpa. A cow doesn’t have puṇya-pāpa. Its actions are done impulsively because it is so programmed. It is only a bhoktā (enjoyer), and not a kartā (doer). Only a human being on this earth is both a kartā as well as a bhoktā. Therefore, when you perform karma with a sense of doer-ship, it attracts both puṇya, and pāpa depending upon the karma. Because of the puṇya-papa earned by actions done in previous births with the sense of doer-ship one is born now as a human being. Now, what is free will? In doing actions one has a choice of doing the action, not doing the action or doing the action differently; kartuṁ śakyaṁ, akartuṁ śakyaṁ, anyathāvā kartuṁ śakyam. Exercising this choice is free will. Only human beings alone on this earth have this choice. Therefore, there is free will, and there is destiny also. Because of destiny, you have a body, a parentage, childhood, and other circumstances. You don’t have a say about these. All through a lifetime, to beat the right place at the right time is not in your hands. The only pāpa gives rise to an animal body, and the only puṇya makes one a denizen in heaven. A human being has a mixture of puṇya, and pāpa, giving rise to pleasant, and unpleasant situations, respectively. Pāpa does not mean sin. One can neutralize some of the papa by prayer, and by doing reaching out karma, that is, pūrta karma which I mentioned earlier. Of course, these actions are done with free will. As prārabdha karma unfolds pleasant, and unpleasant situations in one’s life, how one handles them is by one’s free will. Therefore, prārabdha, and puruṣārtha are like two sides of the coin, and both are present in our lives.
Question: In the aśram Temple4 there is a Śiva liṅga, and also the form of Gaṅgādharēśvara behind the liṅga. Could Swamiji explain the specialty of the form of Śrī Gaṅgādharēśvara?
Swamiji: Both are Gaṅgādharēśvara only. The Śiva liṅga also is Gaṅgādharēśvara. We gave the name Gaṅgādharēśvara as the temple is on
the banks of Gaṅga. First, we got the liṅga, and there is a story behind it. There was only a hut here, and nothing else. There was a brahmacārī by name Chandramouli who picked a stone, kept it as a liṅga, and did abhisheka to it. I asked him not to do so as it would then require doing daily pūjā, and there was nobody to do that. He insisted that we should have a Śiva liṅga here. Then, I said that I will bring one. While going to Kailash aśram for my class, I saw on my way a liṅga under the heavy root of a tree. Upon returning from the class I mentioned to Chandramouli about the liṅga that I saw and asked him to bring that. Three or four persons went, and they could not pull the liṅga out. They came and told me that the root had to be cut in order to get the liṅga out. I told them not to cut the root as it is important for the tree. Therefore, I went and I tried, and the liṅga came out. This is how the Gaṅgādharēśvara came. The Andhra aśram was building a temple at
that time, and there were sthapatis from the south. They used to come in the evenings after their work and built the temple for Gaṅgādharēśvara. We added the maṇḍapa, and other structures later. Really speaking, Gaṅgādharēśvara built the temple Himself. This is an extraordinary temple.
Question: What happens after death?
Swamiji: Some people are relieved. Many people are unhappy. The departed soul is called the preta śarīra. Before leaving, the soul assumes a body, like the śarīra in the dream. In dream you assume a thought body. The entire dream is manomaya,, made of thought. While dreaming prāṇa is there, and breathing continues. Therefore, you come back to the same gross body when you wake up. When the prāṇa also joins the dream body it is called death. The preta śarīra assumes the same form as the body which is left behind. That is why we do all rituals for the soul to get out of the preta śarīra. In all religions, there is some kind of prayer for the departed soul. In our traditions we have the best form of prayers for the preta śarīra. Since we do not know the time frame that obtains for the departed soul, we do prayers for three generations of the ancestors. It might be a hundred years for us but for the departed it may be just one day. So, giving the benefit of doubt to the departed, we keep praying for three generations. We do śrāddha for the three generations. If they have already taken birth, then our prayers will give us the blessings. We are invoking Bhagavān through the ancestors, and we get the blessings. As Bhagavān is everything, the ancestors also are Bhagavān, and hence pitr̥ rūpēṇa Bhagavān will give the result.
Question: How to create a society of contributors?
Swamiji: It is a very important thing. You are an adult only when you contribute. If you only consume you’re still a child. If you cannot contribute, it means that you still have to grow up. An adult is one who though consumes also contributes. We have organizations to safeguard consumer rights. But no one thinks about contribution. “Be a contributor,” is a new mantra for the present times. Everybody should talk about it. We have to make a campaign telling people to be not only a consumer but also be a contributor. That is how, we will be able to create a society of contributors.
Question: How does one understand what is svadharma in the current times?
Swamiji: Svadharma is ‘svasya dharma,’ what is to be done by one, that is, one’s duty. At a given time, place and situation, what is to be done becomes evident. Then, doing it is svadharma. If it is not evident, then one can talk to people, and understand what is the proper action. Such a provision is given in the Veda itself 5.
ye tatrabrāhmaṇāḥsaṃmarśinaḥ | yuktāāyuktāḥ |
This mantra says that suppose you have a doubt regarding a course of action or a doubt regarding the conduct in life, you can talk to the learned people in the society who can think and analyze the situations. You can seek their advice regarding your doubt as to what is right and wrong. Sometimes it may not simply be right and wrong. You can talk to them about what is the right to conduct or improper conduct in the situation. You can observe how they would conduct themselves in a given situation and you may conduct yourself in the same manner. So, we have to understand that svadharma or svakarma is what is to be done in a given time, place, and situation.
Om Tat Sat
2 For further elucidation on the subject of Īśvara, the reader is referred to, “Bringing Īśvara into your life,”
in Talks & Essays – Vol 2, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Research Publication Trust, Chennai, India, 2019.
3 यिो वा इमातन भूिातन जायनिे । येन जािातन जीवननि । यत्प्रयनत्यतभसुंववशननि । िहद्वनजज्ञासस्व । िद्ब्रह्मेति ।
yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante | yena jātāni jīvanti | yatprayantyabhisaṃviśanti | tadvijijñāsasva | tadbrahmeti |
‘That from which indeed all these beings are born, by which the beings which are born, live, and unto which (they) go and resolve, that is Brahman. May you desire to know that.’ (Taittirīyopaniṣad bhṛguvallī prathamo’nuvākaḥ)
Taittirīya upaniṣad, Vol.2, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Research Publication Trust, Chennai, India, 2016).
4 Referring to the Dayananda Ashram at Rishikesh, India
5 अथ यहि िे कमवयवतचहकत्सा वा वत्तृ ववतचहकत्सा वा स्याि्॥ 1.11.3 ;
ये ित्र राह्मणाः सुंमतशयनः । यक्तप ा आयपक्ताः ।अलूक्षा धमकय ामाः स्यपः । यथा िे ित्र विरेन्। 1.11.4
(Taittirīyopaniṣad śīkṣāvallī,11th anuvākaḥ). (For further reading, see also Taittirīya upaniṣad, Vol.1, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Research Publication Trust, Chennai, India, 2016).