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Dialogue XV

Bhaktha: You must remove a big load from my head, Swami. However much I try to forget it, in whichever direction I turn, I suffer from it; I am hearing only that! Then how can I dismiss it from my mind? Finding it impossible, I am praying to You. Please do not mistake my intention; kindly give a direct answer, because if you do so, the weight will be lifted from the heads of all people like me and enthusiasm will increase for Sadhana. Otherwise, I am worried, we may lose even the little faith that we have in the Lord and I am afraid we may turn atheists. Your answer will be of immense help, not only to me but to all Bhakthas everywhere. Therefore, I pray to You to wipe off my doubts without hesitation and tell me the real truth, in very clear terms.
Swami: What is it? Tell me. What is the cause of so much headache?

Bhaktha: Swami, You have told us that man has four Asrams: Brahmacharya, Garhasthyam, Vanaprastham; and Sanyasam; and that those who reach the last stage are indeed blessed, for they attain realisation. Now, please tell us what exactly is that Sanyasam?
Swami: So this has caused you all the worry! Is it? My dear fellow, the wearing of the Gerua cloth, the shaving of the head, these do not make a Sanyasi. He is a person who has given up all desires. He must be fully immersed, in desire, design and deed, fully in the one Godhead and in the discipline to attain Him. Whoever is so immersed is a Sanyasi. Instead, if they retain all kinds of desires, if they engage themselves in every activity to realise their desires, then they are Sanyasis, as the saying goes; that is to say, counterfeits, do you understand?

Bhaktha: But Swami, now we get Sanyasis very cheap for a Rupee, or for a Paisa, or even for a cigarette! Among these, whom should we approach, whom should we accept?
Swami: Why are you concerned with all this? You are concerned with your advancement, your progress. You must crave for a person to point out to you the right path for your Sadhana. Or, if that is not possible, you approach and accept your self; that is enough to give you what you require. Depend upon yourself and your doubts will be destroyed.

Bhaktha: In that case, Swami, what about the statement, "Guru-less Vidya is sightless Vidya"? It is essential to rely on some great person, is it not? To show the way, I mean.
Swami: Great men have not vanished from the face of the earth, my child! Do not think that all are of the type you mention. There are many great men even now; otherwise, how could the world have daylight, as the saying goes?

Bhaktha: Great men may exist among Grahasthas, Vanaprasthas or Brahmacharins, Swami! I haven't much experience with such; but still, I have seen among them people with big name and fame. However, I can say this: It is very difficult to discover really holy men among Sanyasis. It is impossible to find a single Sanyasi without some desire or other. When Sanyasis have so much desire, what is wrong if householders have them? To whichever place we go, the one demand is, "Money, money, money!"
Swami: Really speaking, Sanyasis should have no desire, as you said. Lust and greed are their dreadful enemies. They should have no contact with them. They can accept only whatever little food is given, whenever it is offered, that is all. They can have no desire for more. That is the vow, the rule. They have nothing to do with money.

Bhaktha: Well, Swami, excuse me. Sanyasis are perpetually in need of money! No householder worries so much as they, for money! They exploit and extract from the disciples their hard-earned cash. Those who do not give are condemned. Is all this right, Swami? Is this just? Are these people Gurus?
Swami: No wise person will say that these things are just. How can I say it is right? Why, can you not ask such Sanyasis once, "Sirs, why do you need cash? Is it not wrong for you to have this craving for the fame that comes through money?"

Bhaktha: Oh, I have asked them, Swami.
Swami: What did they say?

Bhaktha: Some said, they wanted money for their expenses; other said, they wanted to develop their Asram further. Many such reasons were given. For those who have learnt to argue, reason-giving is not very hard. It is only when it comes to believing, that we have to choose and discriminate, isn't it?
Swami: The Guru must engage himself in the progress of the disciples who come to him for guidance, and not the Asram; the Asritha is more important than the Asram. The excitement, the anxiety about the Asram, becomes itself a huge Sramam or burden. It is on account of this that people lose even the little faith and devotion that they have and are transformed into atheists. Such Gurus, instead of giving up all ties, have yoked themselves tighter; they are beasts of burden, rather. My dear fellow, listen to Me, do not cast your looks upon the Guru who inflicts pressure on a disciple to extract money. Keep as far away as possible from such persons; do not lose faith by contact with them. Preserve it and develop it, all by yourself.

Bhaktha: We go to such people eager to learn the higher things of life and to know the path for the attainment of the Lord; we seek and search for them, for we do not know which snake lives in which hole; but we find these cobra Sanyasis and are shocked! The anxious desire that they exhibit for the Asram, is not that also wrong, Swami? If they want to serve the public like that, they can as well be just ordinary people and retain their original names and go about collecting funds and spending them, isn't it? Calling themselves Sanyasis, and wearing that dress, getting Upadesam, taking upon themselves numerous vows at the time of initiation into monkshood, declaring that they have destroyed all desire,... if later they follow the path of accumulation, is it not spoiling the very sacredness?
Swami: That individual may be spoiled that is all, my dear fellow; the sacredness of Sanyas can never be diminished! Do not run away with that idea. Of course, there are such men in the world today. But please do not include them in the list of Sanyasis or Swamis. They have no relationship with these two categories. They only do harm to their disciples by retaining those designations. Do not even spend a single thought on them.

Bhaktha: All right, Swami. But there are some who have built Asrams and who are established as Gurus: for them, this desire for money etc. is wrong, is it not?
Swami: Why do you ask? Have these people any special adornment like horns on the head? Really speaking, these people have to be even more careful. For they train many disciples and so, they must make a special effort to see that the trainees acquire the right attitudes and get fully immersed in the contemplation of the Lord. Otherwise, much injury will be caused. If the Guru pays attention to the spiritual progress and inward joy of the disciples, the disciples themselves will struggle for the development of the Asram. No one need exert any pressure. Instead, forgetting their progress, if he clamours for so much of money from this disciple and so much from this devotee for the development of "his" Asram, he will lose the Asram itself! The disciple will lose devotion and the Guru will lose his institution!

Bhaktha: Besides all this, Swami, if anyone points out to them that it is wrong, they get wild and threaten severe punishments. Is that right, Swami?
Swami: This is an additional wrong. How can it be right? It is not correct for any Guru to weaken the heart of any disciple; he must please it and satisfy it. People who frighten and extract are not teachers, but cheaters. They are not shepherds, but sleep.

Bhaktha: Then what do you advise us to do? How are we to deal with these people? Please tell us.
Swami: My dear child, give up all talk of people who have lost their way. Speak of your reaching the path. Give up all contact with such persons, and cultivate contact with such persons, and cultivate contacts with places, where there is neither lust nor greed nor any other desire. Seek for the Guru who looks on all with equal Prema. The real Guru must have certain qualities. Note this. If those qualities are present, go there and be happy. If you do not get such a place, meditate on God within yourself. Do Dhyanam and Bhajana. That is enough; you need not search for another place at all. Whenever you have leisure, read good devotional books. Even from those books, take what you need and discard the rest. Be careful; do not get entangled in all kinds of nets and traps.

Bhaktha: What are the qualities of those great men, Swami?
Swami: They will not have the craving for wealth; nor the ambition to develop their Asrams; they will neither love those who praise them nor hate those who blame them; they will not prevent their disciplines from approaching them; they will not prohibit any one from approaching them; they will look upon all with equal love; they will not relish the defamation of others; they will not be vengeful against those who point out to them their own mistakes and wrongs; they will always spread Sathya, Dharma, Santhi, and Prema; they will ever yearn for the joy, welfare and progress of the devotees. Seek such persons. They are the true Gurus. Do not even cast a glance at those who are afflicted with anger, anxiety, hatred, envy etc., or those worrying about name and fame and honor and status, however pompous their personality, however resounding their reputation.

Bhaktha: All right, Swami. It is all very good. But, just one little doubt. These big Gurus, highly learned, giving long lectures for hours together, how is it that they do not realise all this? Cannot these big men see their faults themselves and set them right?
Swami: Well, even an ounce of experience is useful! But, a ton of learning may prove useless. Many people lecture in colleges, and pour forth hour after hour, things they have learnt by rote. Can one become great by merely the length or grandeur of his lectures? That is like vomiting the swallowed meal. You must see how much of what is spoken is practised; those who give advice must follow it themselves. If you cannot avoid doing a thing, do not ask others to avoid it. So, however learned a person may be, unless he has experience and practice, it will be simply a nine days wonder, and a after that he will be neither here nor there. Of course, the qualities I mentioned are to be noted, not merely in the Gurus, but in all. So give up this talk about others being bad or wrong; develop your faith and devotion; strengthen your discipline for meditation on the Lord; engage yourself in beneficial deeds; speak only what will bring good; worship the Lord; keep Him, ever in the memory; do Japam and Dhyanam. If you are immersed in these, you will not worry at all about the right and wrong of others.

Bhaktha: Swami, you explained the relationship of the Guru and the Sishya. Looking at present conditions, he who reveals the reality is not liked at all. Many of the Gurus, Swamis and Sadhus are, as you said, behaving wrongly and in many ways ruining their very name. Besides they are acting contrary to the vows of Sanyasa and the Dharma relating to the Lord. Such people may not appreciate your statements. They may even develop animosity, for your laying bare their defects. Or, what is worse, they may try to justify their conduct and invent stories and arguments to make their actions appear correct. Your remarks apply only to the wrongdoers, they do not refer to those who are engaged in good activities. So, really good Sadhus and those interested in upholding the ideas will be happy that You have spoken thus. But regardless of what people might say, please Swami, help Sadhakas to progress and reveal to us the glory of the Lord.
Swami: Well, what does it matter to Me how people talk? How can falsehood be supported, fearing comment? "As the burden, so the bearer," says the proverb. Only fakes will resent and comment adversely. The genuine Gurus will rejoice. "Only a thief will feel his shoulder, when some one announces the theft of a gourd" (as the saying goes), because he is afraid, whether at the time he has the stolen gourd actually on his shoulders! Those who do not steal gourds will not feel their shoulders. Those who are genuine will have no fear or anger. The others can learn a lesson if they develop a sense of shame and resolve to mend their ways, at least, hereafter. For deeds done in ignorance, repentance is the way to make amends and to earn pardon. Not to repeat the same deed is the sign of the morally strong.