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Brahman or God Exists

by Swami Sivananda

Para Brahman cannot be demonstrated. But it is possible to infer the existence from certain empirical factors. The existence of Brahman is known from the fact of its being the SELF of everyone. For everyone is conscious of the existence of his self and never thinks "I am not." If the existence of his self were not known, everyone would think: "I am not." This self, of whose existence all are conscious, is Brahman. There is an inherent feeling in everybody: "I exist-Aham Asmi."

You dream sometimes that you are dead and that your relatives are weeping. Even in that supposed death state, you see and hear them weeping. This clearly indicates that, even after the apparent death, life really persists. You exist even after the physical sheath is thrown out. That existence is Atman or Brahman or the Supreme Self.

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that you are dead. You can never do so. You can never think that you will not exist after death. You will imagine that your dead body is lying flat and that you are witnessing the dead body. This definitely proves that you are always the witnessing subject or Sakshi.

When you are in the dark, when you are behind a veil, if anybody enquires: 'Who is there?', you will unhesitatingly answer: 'It is I'. If he again asks you: 'Who is there?' you will say: 'I am So and So.' This 'I am So and So' is a mental Kalpnana or false superimposition on account of ignorance. At first you have expressed spontaneously your inherent feeling of existence, the big infinite 'I'. Nothing can resist this innate feeling of 'Aham Asmi.'

By whose command are the earth and the sky, the sun and the moon, upheld in their places? By whose command do the seas not overstep their limits? By whose command does the sun rise punctually in the morning and set in the evening? By whose command do the seasons, solstices and the years not transgress? By whose command do Karmas and their performers and their fruits not likewise go beyond their appointed time? It is by the command of Brahman-the Inner Ruler, Controller and Governor.

What is common in trees, ants, birds, stones and man? Existence. A tree exists. A bird exists. A stone exists. A man exists. Existence is Brahman.

Some are rich, some are poor. Some are healthy, some are born blind. Some die at eighty, some die at ten. What is the cause for this variation? This clearly proves the theory of Karma that there is one Omniscient Lord, who is the dispenser of fruits of actions of human beings, who fixes the span of life in accordance with the nature of their actions, who knows the exact relation between Karmas and their fruits. Karma is Jada or insentient. It certainly cannot dispense the fruits of the actions.

In sleep there are no senses, no objects, no mind and yet you experience the highest bliss. Wherefrom have you derived the bliss? The mind rests in Brahman during sleep and it is from Brahman that this Bliss is derived.

Cogito, ergo sum-"I think, therefore, I am." This is Descartes's fundamental basis of philosophy. Sri Sankara says: "This Atman cannot be illusive, for, he who would deny it, witnesses its reality even in denying it."

POWER OF PRAYER

Prayer elevates the mind. It fills the mind with purity. It is associated with praise of God. It keeps the mind in tune with God. Prayer can reach a realm where reason dare not enter. Prayer can move mountains. It can work miracles. It frees the devotee from the fear of death, brings him nearer to God and makes him feel the divine presence everywhere. It awakens in him the divine consciousness and makes him feel his essential immortal and blissful nature.

It was the prayer of Prahlada that rendered cool the burning oil when it was poured on his head. It was the prayer of Mira that converted the bed of nails into a bed of roses and the cobra into a flower-garland.

Prayer has tremendous influence. Mahatma Gandhi was a great votary of prayer. If the prayer is sincere and if it proceeds from the bottom of your heart (Antarika), it will at once melt the heart of the Lord. Sri Krishna had to run bare-footed from Dvaraka on hearing the heart-felt prayer of Draupadi. You all know this. Lord Hari, the mighty ruler of this universe, apologised before Prahlada for coming a little late when the latter prayed. How merciful and loving is the Lord!

Say even once from the bottom of your heart: "O Lord, I am thine. Thy will be done. Have mercy on me. I am Thy servant and devotee. Forgive. Guide. Protect. Enlighten. Trahi. Prachodayat." Have a meek, receptive attitude of mind. Have Bhava in your heart. The prayer is at once heard and responded to. Do this in the daily battle of life and realise yourself the high efficacy of prayer. You must have strong Astikya-Buddhi (strong conviction in the existence of God).

Christians have different prayers for getting various gifts and bounties from God. Mohammedans and all religionists have daily prayers at sunrise, noon, sunset, just before retiring to bed, just before taking food. Prayer is the beginning of Yoga. Prayer is the first important Anga (limb) of Yoga. Preliminary spiritual Sadhana or practice is prayer.

God helps even a dacoit when he prays. Pray to God for purity, devotion, light and knowledge. You will get these things. Get up early in the morning and repeat some prayers for getting mental and physical Brahmacharya. Pray in any manner you like. Become as simple as a child. Open freely the chambers of your heart. Sincere Bhaktas know pretty well about the high efficacy of prayers. Narada Muni is still praying. Nama Deva prayed and Vittal came out of the image to eat his food. Ekanath prayed. Lord Hari showed His Chaturbhuj form. Sri Krishna served Damaji as a servant when he prayed; He played the part of a menial in paying his dues to the Badshah. What more do you want? Pray fervently right now from this very second. Do not delay, friend. That 'to-morrow' will never come.

The power of prayer is indescribable. Its glory is ineffable. Only sincere devotees realise its usefulness and splendour. It should be done with reverence, faith and Nishkama-Bhava (non-expectation of fruits), and with a heart wet with devotion. O ignorant man! Do not argue about the efficacy of prayer. You will be deluded. There is no arguing in spiritual matters. Intellect is a finite and a frail instrument. Do not trust this. Remove now the darkness of your ignorance through the light of prayer.

BHAKTI YOGA

The term 'Bhakti' comes from the root 'Bhaj' which means 'to be attached to God.' Bhakti is the form of supreme love towards God. It is love for love's sake. The devotee wants God and God alone. There is no selfish expectation here. Bhakti is of the nature of nectar. It is the spontaneous outpouring of love towards God. It is pure unselfish love or Suddha Prem. It is the sacred higher emotion with sublime sentiments that unites the devotee with the Lord. It has to be experienced by the devotees.

Bhakti is the basis of all religious life. Bhakti destroys Vasanas and egoism. Bhakti elevates the mind to magnanimous heights. Bhakti is the master-key to open the chambers of wisdom. Bhakti culminates in Jnana. Bhakti begins in two and ends in one. Para Bhakti and Jnana are one.

There is no virtue higher than love; there is no treasure higher than love; there is no Dharma higher than love; there is no religion higher than love; because, love is Truth and love is God. Love, Prem and Bhakti are synonymous terms. This world has come out of love. This world exists in love and this world ultimately dissolves in love. God is an embodiment of love. In every inch of His creation, you can verily understand His love.

A life without love, faith and devotion is a dreary waste. It is a real death. Love is divine. Love is the greatest power on earth. It is irresistible. It is love alone that can really conquer the heart of a man. Love subdues an enemy. Love can tame wild ferocious animals. Its power is infinite. Its depth is unfathomable. Its nature is ineffable. Its glory is indescribable. The essence of religion is love. Therefore, develop pure love.

Do you really want God? Do you really thirst for His Darshan? Have you got real spiritual hunger? Only he who thirsts for the Darshan of God will develop love. Unto him alone, He will reveal Himself. God is a question of supply and demand. If there is a sincere demand for God, the supply will come at once.

Develop the nine modes of Bhakti gradually. Hear the Lilas of the Lord: this is Sravana. Sing His praise: this is Kirtana. Remember His Names: this is Smarana. Worship His lotus-feet: this is Pada-seva. Offer flowers: this is Archana. Prostrate yourself before Him: this is Vandana. Do service unto Him: this is Dasya-Bhava. Make friendship with Him: this is Sakhya-Bhava. Do total unreserved self-surrender unto Him: this is Atma-Nivedana.

Sit not idly praying to God to help thee, but be up and doing as God helps only those who help themselves. Do the best you can and leave the rest to God. Serve the devotees. Remain in their company. Do Japa and Kirtan. Study Ramayana and Bhagavata. Live in Brindavan or Ayodhya for some time. You will soon develop devotion.

Pray fervently like Prahlada. Sing like Radha. Repeat His names as Valmiki, Tukaram and Tulsidas did. Do Kirtan like Gauranga. Weep in solitude like Mira for the separation from the Lord. You will have Darshan of the Lord this very second.

Kindle the light of love in your heart. Love all. Include all creatures in the warm embrace of your love. Cultivate Visva Prem or all-embracing, all-inclusive cosmic love. Love is a mysterious divine glue that unites the hearts of all. It is a divine magical healing balm of very high potency. Charge every action with pure love. Kill cunningness, greed, crookedness and selfishness. Immortality can be attained only by performing acts of kindness continuously. Hatred, anger and jealousy are removed by continuous service with loving heart. You will get more strength, more joy, more satisfaction by doing kind acts. Practice of compassion, charitable acts, kind services purify and soften the heart, turn the heart-lotus upwards and prepare the aspirant for the reception of divine light.

The Sastras are endless. There is much to be known. Time is short. Obstacles are many. That which is essence should be grasped, just as the swan takes the essence of milk alone from a mixture of water and milk. That essence is love or Bhakti. Drink this essence and attain the everlasting abode of Peace and Immortality.

Live in love. Breathe in love. Sing in love. Eat in love. Drink in love. Walk in love. Talk in love. Pray in love. Meditate in love. Think in love. Move in love. Write in love. Die in love. Taste the honey of divine love and become an embodiment of love (Prema-Vigraha of Prema-Murti).

May the fire of devotion grow brighter in you all! May your heart be filled with devotion! May you all live drowned in the ocean of love in an illumined state! May the blessings of Bhagavatas be upon you all! Peace be with you all!

JAPA YOGA

Japa is the repetition of any Mantra or name of the Lord. In this Iron Age, Japa is an easy way for God-realisation. Tukaram, Prahlada, Valmiki, Dhruva and several others attained salvation by Japa alone. Sri Krishna says in the Gita, "Yajnanam Japa-Yajnosmi". Among the Yajnas, I am Japa Yajna (Yaga)".

There are three kinds of Japa, viz., verbal or loud Japa (Vaikhari), semi-verbal Japa or humming (Upamsu), and mental Japa or silent repetition through mind (Mansic). Mental Japa is more powerful. It gives a reward ten thousand times more than the loud Japa. When the mind wanders aimlessly take to loud Japa.

Japa must become habitual. It must be done with Sattvic or divine Bhava or feeling, purity, Prema and Sraddha. There is an indescribable power or Achintya Sakti in the names of God or Mantra. Every name is filled with countless Saktis or potencies.

Practice of Japa removes the impurities of the mind, just as soap cleanses the cloth of its impurities. Be regular in your Japa. Japa destroys the sins and brings the devotee face to face with God.

The name of God chanted correctly or incorrectly, knowingly or unknowingly, carefully or carelessly, with Bhava or without Bhava is sure to give the desired fruit. The Bhava will come by itself after some time. Get up at 4 a.m. and do the Japa for two hours. You will get the maximum benefits.

The glory of the name of God cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can certainly be experienced or realised only through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the Name. Have reverence and faith for the name of God. Do not argue. Devotees of Lord Hari can repeat the Mantras 'Hari Om' or 'Om Namo Narayanaya'. Devotees of Sri Ram can repeat 'Sri Rama', or 'Sitaram', or 'Om Sri Ram, Jaya Ram, Jaya Jaya Ram.' Devotees of Sri Krishna can repeat 'Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.' Devotees of Lord Siva can repeat 'Om Namah Sivaya.' Perform 200 Malas of Japa daily. Wear a Mala on your neck. Mala is a whip to goad the mind towards God.

O man! Take refuge in the Name. Name and Nami are inseparable. In this Iron Age, Japa is the easiest, quickest, safest and surest way to reach God and attain immortality and perennial joy. Glory to the Lord! Glory to His Name!

SANKIRTAN YOGASankirtan is singing God's name with feeling (Bhava), love (Prema) and faith (Sraddha). In Sankirtan people join together and sing God's name collectively in a common place. Sankirtan is one of the nine modes of Bhakti. You can realise God through Kirtan alone. This is the easiest method for attaining God-consciousness in Kali Yuga or the Iron Age "Kalau Kesava-Kirtanat".

When several people join together and practise Sankirtan, a huge spiritual current or Mahasakti is generated. This purifies the heart of the aspirants and elevates them to the sublime heights of divine ecstasy or Samadhi. The powerful vibrations are carried to distant places. They bring elevation of mind, solace, strength to all people and work as a harbinger of peace, harmony and concord. They annihilate hostile forces and quickly bring peace and bliss to the whole world.

Lord Hari says to Narada, "Naham Vasami Vaikunthe Yoginam Hridaye na cha, Mad-Bhakta Yatra Gayanti Tatra Tishthami Narada", i.e., "I dwell not in Vaikuntha nor in the hearts of the Yogins, but I dwell where my devotees sing my name, O Narada."

Kirtan destroys sins, Vasanas and Samskaras, fills the heart with Prem and devotion and brings the devotee face to face with God.

Akhanda Kirtan is very powerful. It purifies the heart. The Mahamantra: 'Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare-Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare' or 'Om Namah Sivaya' should be sung continuously for 3 hours or 24 hours, three days or a week, by forming batches. One will lead and others will follow. Do Akhanda Kirtan on Sundays or holidays. Do Prabhat-Pheri Kirtan in the morning around the streets. Kirtan in the early morning is more effective than at night.

At night, sit before the picture of the Lord along with your children, family-members and servants. Do Kirtan for one or two hours. Be regular in the practice. You will derive immense peace and strength.

Sing the Lord's Name from the bottom of your heart. Be wholly and solely devoted to Him. Delay in God-realisation is extremely painful. Merge in Him. Live in Him. Be established in Him.

May peace and prosperity abide in you all!

KALISANTARANA UPANISHAD

At the end of Dvapara Yuga, Narada went to Brahma and said: "O Lord! How can I cross Kali or mundane existence easily?" Brahma replied. "Well asked. Hearken to that which all Vedas keep secret and hidden, through which one may cross the Samsara or mundane existence. He destroys the evil effects of Kali through the mere uttering of the word 'Lord Narayana,' who is the primeval Purusha!"

Narada asked Brahma: "O venerable Lord! What is the name?" Brahma replied: "The names are: Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.

These sixteen names destroy the evil effects of Kali or sins. There is no better means than this in all the Vedas. These sixteen names destroy the Avarana or veil of ignorance that has enveloped the Jivas or the human beings. Then just as the sun shines fully after the clouds are dispersed, so also, Para Brahman or Supreme Self alone shines after the veil is removed."

Narada asked. "O Lord! What are the rules to be observed when one utters these names?" Brahma replied:" O Rishi Narada! There are no rules. Whoever repeats these names three and a half crores or 35 millions in a pure or an impure state, is freed at once from all sins. He is at once released from all bondages. He merges himself in the Lord and attains Eternal Bliss and Immortality".

The Jiva has sixteen Kalas, corresponding to which sixteen words or names are given in this Mahamantra. This is very good for repetition during Akhanda Kirtan. If you repeat this Mantra 20,000 times per day you will finish three and a half crores within 5 years. You can sing this Mantra and can do Japa also. You can write this Mantra in a notebook as Likhita Japa.

The names of God, chanted in any way correctly or incorrectly, knowingly or unknowingly, carefully or carelessly, is sure to give the desired result. The glory of the Name of God cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can certainly be experienced or realised through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the name only. The power of name is ineffable. Its glory is indescribable. The efficacy and inherent Sakti of the name of God is unfathomable.

May you attain God-consciousness by repetition of the names of God as described above. May you have real taste for the names of the Lord!


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