Param ramya uttam yeh dharani | Mahima amit jaai nahin barani ||
Karihaun ihaan sambhu sthaapana | Morey hridaya param kalapana ||
This is the most charming and delightful spot, Its glory is immeasurable and can not be described in words.
Here I will install (an image of) Shambhu, this is my ardent desire
There are many temples in the world whose structures are vertically high and tall. But today, there is a need to build bridges between people that can be called as temples, but build in horizontal way. Such is the bridge to Lanka (setubandh) made by Bhagwaan Ram; it is a horizontal temple. Horizontal temples cannot be abolished as they already exist on ground to bring people together.
Bapu says, “Like Gujarat govt. has brought a scheme of ‘Burden-free education’; I would like people to recognize the supreme power as ‘Burden-free God’, who does not make anyone frightened but fearless. Everyone should be able to easily identify with their subject of worship.”
Anything in the world that does not have truth in its base/origin does not last forever. It is bound to degenerate in limited age.
One who has the following can described as truly great, even if he/she is not given adulation by the world. He/she has the ideal combination of all the elements of nature.
- Resolution (nirnaya)- To walk on a defined path with dedication. This is the earth element.
- Skill (nipunata)- To learn from the master; this denotes fire element.
- Purity (nikhaalasta)- Absence of ego signifies the sky element.
- Fearlessness (nirbhayata)- Courage to pursue the goal depicts the air element.
- Originality (nijata) – Self-realization is the indicator of water element.
“Seeya Ram maya sab jaga jaani” – To actually experience that all creation is the form of the Lord, it requires rigorous penance over the years and grace of Sadaguru. Instant realization is usually in theory and far too away for practice. The usual prescribed time for an aspirant for realizing/experiencing the Lord in every form is twelve years.
The criticism and comments of the society should never discourage an aspirant. He/she should have faith in bhajan and carry on with dedication
A basic difference between jeev (creature) and shiv (creator) is that the jeev is capable of imagining and planning (kalapana) but shiv is capable of materializing any thought effortlessly. For a jeev, it requires a lot of patience, courage and dedication to pursue any thought. One has to be extremely careful about choosing the place where to initiate the thought.
In case of any venture, one should be mentally prepared for any kind of result, either success or failure. Sadness or happiness should not take over an aspirant as the results are bound to happen in any endeavour.
An aspirant has to have following for a spiritual journey:
- Intense anxiety for the divine.
- Shelter of a Sadaguru.
- Courage to be always truthful.
- Obeying Sadaguru’s commands with faithfulness.
If one can maintain these then the fervent faith only leads to realization.
Tulsidas jee uses the ‘pram ramya’ (exceptionally exquisite) only at key places in Shri Ram Charit Manas; it shows that the usage denotes certain thoughts.
1. Param ramya giribaru kailaasu | Sadaa jahaan siv uma nivaasu||
Kailas is referred to as magnificent abode of Bhagwaan Shankar and Ma Parvati. Kailaas signifies greatness/height. A person’s eminence can only be unique if it is adorned with faith (vishwaas) and belief (shradhha). It also means that the greatness of an individual should be such that it cannot be scaled by anything, just like Mount Kailaas .
2. Bharadwaaj aashram ati paavan | Param ramya munibar mana bhaavan||
The ashram (hermitage) of Bharadwaj jee is illustrious in its own way. According to Hinduism, ‘ashram’ also refers to various phases in a person’s life. If an individual lives every phase of life appropriately (according to the prescribed way by the scriptures), it is a considerable achievement. The ashram of Prayaag is also a place of Kumbh (where there is an assembly of various schools of thought), so it is a connotation that an aspirant has to move towards merging of knowledge and devotion and purity (shudhhata) and capability (sidhhata).
3. Baagu tadaagu biloki prabhu harashey bandhu samet | Param ramya aaraamu yehu jo ramahi sukh det||’
The ever-blooming garden in Janakpur Bhagwaan Ram (pushpa-vatika) is a boon of comfort and beauty. If an individual experiences peace in any activity/place /situation, it is a blooming garden for him/her.
4. Param ramya uttam yeh dharani | Mahima amit jaai nahin barani ||
Bhagwaan Ram chose to install Bhagwaan Shankar’s image while proceeding to Lanka; An aspirant should take an inspiration that in the best of times, one should make the most of it and at the same time bow a resolution in the heart for welfare of all.
There is favour for us, even in the worst adversities. The Lord is ‘mangal-murti’, so he can only do the best for us. To develop this mentality, one has to have strong faith (vishwaas) and suitable knowledge (vivek). Both are indispensable parts of a spiritual path.
These days everyone knows how to place things in house/workplace. But one should also be able to secure the place of parents, spouse ad others around him with respect in life.
“Param kalapana’ in the main chaupai also means a resolution for welfare of all. It is an extremely benevolent thought. Poet Bashir Badr says, “Khuda mujhko aisi khudaai na de, Ki apane siva kuchh dikhaai na de.”
An individual should think beyond oneself and always try to share whatever is bestowed to him/her.
In Vedas, over questioning (questioning beyond a point) is prohibited. As there is no end to the infinite supreme power, there cannot be any end to questions about it; therefore, we have to just conclude with ‘neti, neti’ (not the end, not the end..).
Pure joy is a form of God. A spiritual person need not be grave, but be lively and cheerful.
Yesterday, we missed one chaupai of Shri Ram Charit Manas where the word ‘param ramya’ is used by Tulsidas jee:
‘Sikhar ek uttang ati dekhi| Param ramya sama subhra bisekhi||’
(Lanka Kand, 11)
Here, there is an indication of four characters of greatness.
- A person can be actually great when a point is reached, where he gains a magnitude that takes him above everything, making him a witness of all. But this stage cannot be attained at the cost of humility. There should be total rejection of ego.
- An egoistic person may have certain tendencies- he does not respect anyone, disregards everyone and equates himself with notable personalities.
- A great person has inner beauty that reflects on outside personality.
- Only a balanced-minded person can achieve a momentous stage.
A great soul is illuminated inside-outside, free from darkness of false pride.
In this specific topic of Lanka Kand, Tulsidas jee used the word ‘setu’ 10 times (setu-8 times and setubandh-2 times). Rameshwaram is the 10 th Jyotirlinga. There is a hidden reason behind every word of Shri Ram Charit Manas.
Don’t take the respect given by others for granted. It is not due to your merit, but due to their large heartedness. Give credit to others’ modesty in order to prevent your ego from inflating.
An individual should take inspiration from two sutras of Sai Baba of Shirdi:Shradhha (trust) and Saboori (patience). For instance, if we feel hot in a room, we open the window, that is shradhha, and we wait for breeze, that is saboori.
Bhagwaan Ram found the southern point of India as appropriately sacred (param ramya) due to following reasons.
- It was a place where immobility (Hanuman jee was inactive till now) turned into action.
- It was a place of saadhana (Bhagwaan Ram himself did penance for three days).
- The seeds for Ma Jaanaki’s (form of bhakti) search were sown here.
- Vibheeshan gained refuge in Bhagwaan Ram’s feet here.
- Jaamvant jee says that Bhagwaan Ram’s name is a setu (bridge) in itself-‘ Naath naam tav setu nar chaddhi bhav-saagar tarahin|’. There are two ends of the bridge of Harinaam-They are faith (shradhha) and pure mind (saral chitta). Harinaam becomes bridge to cross the terrestrial ocean.
The mind of a person is usually stained by three elements. Two of them need to be removed, but one can be considered as complementary:
- Kaamana (desire)- it prevents the bridge of Harinaam from getting formed, so needs to be removed as much as possible.
- Ahankaar (pride)- an individual may have a risk of getting an overblown ego when he gets conscious of his efforts in the spiritual path (saadhana). Therefore, an aspirant has to constantly remind himself that all his efforts are only due to the grace of Sadaguru.
- Karuna (compassion)- This is also a form of binding for an aspirant. But it is not so harmful as it helps in reducing the desires and makes place for generosity.
Question – One should confess to the Lord or the world?
Bapu’s answer – A person whose main priority is the Lord and who lives a spiritual life should confess to God. But a person, whose life revolves around the materialistic world and who hardly ever turns to God, should confess about his deeds to the world.
Sahajo Bai had said that Sadaguru might be of four types:
- Paaras (stone that converts iron into gold) – Just a touch of such a Sadaguru can transform an aspirant, but there is a condition of touch and absence of any wrapper around.
- Lamp – Like a lighted candle lights another; Sadaguru can enlighten the disciple provided there is certain closeness between the two.
- Breeze from Malaya-giri – The breeze of malaya tree can turn a palaash tree into sandal tree even if it is miles away. Just a remembrance by Sadaguru can make over an aspirant, but there is a condition of shishya being receptive like palaash.
- Oil in water – If oil is mixed in water, it spreads over it making it greasy and colourful. Sadaguru fills the aspirant with affection and brings true joy in his life.
Sahajo Bai also discussed four types of faith (shradhha) of a shishya.
- Like a line drawn on water that is only for a while.
- Like a line on ground, which only lasts till others’ feet and dust does not wipe it off. The belief gets drained due to the brainwashing by the people who try to convert the religion of others.
- Like a line on iron. Faith lasts long provided other equally strong object does not rub it.
- Line on a diamond is quite strong, but a diamond gets sold. Faith gets developed but there is a risk of getting lured by a good price.
Bapu says, “I would like to add the fifth i.e. line on the soul. The faith gets embellished in the soul, so there is no chance of getting destroyed or damaged as soul is beyond reach of anyone.”
Bhagwaan Ram worships Shiv and also says that he is the subject of my affection, like no one else. Shiv is Bhagwaan Shankar, but it also means ‘kalyaan’ (welfare of all). Bhagwaan Ram is pleased by anyone who makes every effort with the intention of wellbeing of everyone.
We all commonly experience that whenever, we indulge in scornful talks (ninda), hatred towards others (dwesh) and envy (irshya), and we lose peace of mind. This unrest inside happens, as the soul cannot accept such negativities, therefore mental discomfort is inevitable. A person with such damaging inclinations lives in hell on earth.
It is noticeable that in the process of building the setubandh (bridge), Bhagwaan Ram did not get any support from any people from higher status/caste, Devatas or Kings. He got assistance from bears and monkeys, which denotes that the common man is most willing for bridging the gaps. Supposed leaders and fanatics are not so sincere in their efforts to bring unity amongst people because of their selfish motives.
Never pain or trouble (dukh) as enemy; a person’s enemy is individual mental hatred (dwesh) towards others. Similarly, material comfort (sukh) should not be regarded as a friend; a person’s true friend is his wisdom/understanding.
Don’t encourage sects that create differences in the society, whose sole purpose is to spread their worship patterns by hook or crook. So, be extremely careful in giving donations to such religious organizations. Such sects with selfish motives lure people by some social services just to convert them into their group. They don’t even hesitate in attacking the dignity of ‘Sanaatan dharma’. Bapu says, ‘ please be careful of such sects and stick to your original faith.’
Some messages of Sufism are highly revered.
- Sharaafat-e-khuda – God is there where there is honesty.
- Mohabbat-e-khuda – God is there where is love.
- Rehmat-e-khuda – God is there where is compassion.
- Siyaasat-e-khuda – God is there where truth controls power.
- Qayaamat-e-khuda – God is present on the day of reckoning.
Everyone should be proud of own religion. But humanity is the common religion for all human beings and it should be the base of building the bridges between people. Each one should try to join in this effort at his/her own level.
According to a story in Puraan, once Bhagwaan Ram and Ma Jaanaki went to Kurukshetra and met LopaMudra jee (wife of Kumbhaj Rishi). She asked Bhagwaan Ram that what was the reason behind constructing the setu. Bhagwaan Ram answered that it was not fair to ask Kumbhaj Rishi again to drink up ocean that had earlier come out of his body. It was not right to dry up the ocean either. Setubandh was a medium to ascertain the potential (prabhaav) of the supreme power. Another reason was to unite people, but the main reason, according to Bhagwaan Ram was to place Bhagwaan Rameshwaram at that point.
A spiritual person should not gain strength at the cost of humility. He should always maintain humbleness along with power, only then he can bring unity in practice.
The five faces of Bhagwaan Shankar denote five sutras of Upanishads:
- ‘Annam brahmeti vyajaanaat‘ – Revere the food like God. Never criticize the food served to you; it is insult to God. Eating with this mentality will become bhajan. Don’t keep too many fastings at the cost of peace of mind. Any fast that takes away the natural joy and peace of a person, should not be followed.
- ‘Praano brahmeti vyajaanaat’ – The life source is God. The existence of any creature is due to this force only.
- ‘Mano brahmeti vyajaanaat’ – The only companion that never leaves any creature, even through the cycle of rebirth, is the mind- It is God.
- ‘Vigyaanam brahmeti vyajaanaat’ – Science that preserves is God.
- ‘Anando brahmeti vyajaanaat’ – Inherent joy is God.
The whole existence is infinite (agaadh). It is almost impossible to know it fully. A person should live and try to make the best of his time without being finicky about analyzing everything.
Existence is full of depth (gahan). It can be only understood rightly if a Sadaguru grants appropriate vision.
Existence is full of mystery (rahasya-poorna). The whole cycle of this subsistence is mysterious.
In spite of the above, one should not become cynical, but try to live with positive state of mind and make the best of every moment.
A true Sadaguru never hypnotizes anyone; neither does he criticize anyone. The main task of Sadaguru is to create satisfaction in everyone’s life.
An aspirant should stick to one subject of worship in the worst of circumstances also. Surrender (sharanaagati) is good, but one has to actually come across (sanmukh) the Sadaguru. One has to literally turn towards the Sadaguru with faith. Ahalya jee is a fine example of this. She was out in the open, waiting for Bhagwaan Ram with perseverance, without any fear of admitting her mistake.
Bhagwaan Ram worships ‘Setubandh’ i.e. bridging the gaps and creating unity. While returning to Ayodhya after the war in Lanka, Bhagwaan Ram showed the places where major incidents (like killing of Meghnaad and Kumbhakaran) had taken place to Sita jee. But he did not confirm his involvement in any of those. When he showed Bhagwaan Rameshwaram, he clearly admitted that he himself placed the Shiv-linga there. The feeling of Bhagwaan Ram for ‘Setubandh’ becomes openly obvious.
‘Baandha setu neel nal naagar | Ram kripa jasu bhayau ujaagar||’ – Tulsidas jee uses the word ‘naagar’ (uppermost social order) to describe monkeys and bears, who formed the bridge. This is an evident implication that even the most ordinary person gets transformed into the highest personality if one uses his caliber to create harmony for the welfare of all. For such a person, fame also follows due to God’s grace.
Everyone who gains acclaim in the society should understand that it is all due to eternal grace. One should be careful of invasion of ego in the mind.
Don’t forget to give but forget after giving.
Bapu says, “if you want to be successful leave everything to Sadaguru, if that is not possible then it is better to leave the Sadaguru.”
Bhagwaan Ram took care of Ahalya jee, who was abandoned by all including her husband (Gautam Rishi), son (Shataanand) and Indra, who became a reason for this state of hers. This signifies that the Lord takes care of the most downtrodden.
Question – Unity needs to be created in every sphere of life. Please discuss the bridge between a Sadaguru and shishya.
Bapu’s answer – Sadaguru and shishya are two seas. Sadaguru is a sea of good qualities and shishya is a sea of faults. To bridge the gap between the two, efforts should be undertaken from both sides to prevent unnecessary delay in spiritual journey. Shishya’s efforts should be in the form of faith (shradhha) and Sadaguru’s efforts are in the form of grace or affection. They both may be on distinct banks, but still they can remain aligned through this bridge.
A poet says, “unse milne jaana hai, khud se mil kar aana hai.” In the presence of Sadaguru, the aspirant realizes his own self. A person can only feel truly content if he is satisfied with himself; otherwise all the efforts to find joy would be futile. One should never try to imitate anyone, but live true to oneself. One can lose own identity in the process of imitating others.
There may be three reasons to imitate anybody:
- Ambition to become great.
- Ego to equate oneself with the highest.
- Hatred/jealousy towards the renowned.
Susang is not Satsang; Susang is the company of decent person and satsang refers to company of truth or Sadaguru. Therefore, susang cannot transform people but satsang definitely works on the mind of an individual and brings transformation for good.
Don’t try to use your power/privilege (adhikaar) all the time. Use it at the appropriate time, in such a way that it is not hurtful to others. Be careful in using the words to express your right; don’t be harsh in speaking. Also be cautious in choosing the suitable person to pursue your right.
There should be a bridge (setu) between the various sections of society for prevalence of cordiality.
In a family, on one hand, the setu should be build by youngsters’ respectful behaviour towards seniors and on the other hand, elders’ open-heartedness towards youth.
In the political sphere, the setu should be build two; one by constitutional rights of citizens (prajaa) and two by duties prescribed by the constitution for the head of state (raaja).
After the construction of setubandh was finished, Bhagwaan Ram decided to proceed towards Lanka. On this command, some monkeys and bears skillfully jumped and almost flew over towards Lanka, some walked over the bridge and some walked over the bridge made by bodies of countless creatures of sea who had gathered to have a glimpse of Bhagwaan Ram.
If seen in the spiritual context, the route of the sky signifies the path of knowledge (gyaan). The path of action (karma) is the way of walking over the setu formed by themselves. The bridge, which was formed without any formal preparations (unexpectedly by the creatures of the sea), is the connotation of the path of devotion.
The only fundamental requirement in the path of devotion is endurance (dhairya). One has to cultivate immense patience, as there may be no instant results in this path. Do your efforts with sincerity and leave the results to Him. Just focus on the Lord and it is experienced by many that even the negative elements become cooperative.
When setubandh was constructed, numerous creatures of the sea gathered together to watch it. This resulted in a huge crowd at that time. It is an indication that every living creature is in favour unity and accord amongst people.
The word ‘Setu’ has been used for Bhagwaan Ram at some key points in Shri Ram Charit Manas. These are significant of the three main paths of spirituality:
- ‘ Shruti setu paalak ram tumha jagadees maaya jaanaki|’
(Ayodhya kand, 126Bhagwaan Ram is personification of Vedas. This is a representation of path of knowledge. All the scriptures are bridges in themselves, provided they are studied without fanaticism. There are two shores of the bridge of gyaan – ‘Ruta’ (truth in its highest form) and ‘Tapa’ (penance). As this bridge is steep in shape, it is a bit challenging to go on this path.
- Dharma setu karunaayatan kasa na kahahu asa ram|’
(Ayodhya kand, 248)Bhagwaan Ram shows that the path of action (karma) can become a tool for creating unity if a person’s action is for welfare of all. Dharma comprising of truth (that results in fearlessness), love (that ends in surrender) and compassion (leading to non-violence) is a bridge that helps to cross the vast ocean of reincarnation. This is a complex bridge as it is not easy to follow every form of dharma all the time.
- ‘Naath naam tav setu nar chaddhi bhav-saagar tarahin|’ (Lanka kand, 1)
Bhagwaan Ram’s name is the sign of the path of devotion. The Harinaam setu is in the form of ‘japa maala’, in which every bead is a tirtha (pilgrimage) and the meru (central bead) is Rameshwaram. Every religion has maala as a part of worship. It is a tool to attain peace of mind in actual sense. There is a scientific reason behind maala, it is not just a spiritual method.
Once Naarad jee explained the various aspects of ‘daan’ (charity) to a king named Dharmavarma:
- He said that the two basis of daan are capability (shakti) and faith (shradhha).
- The six reasons for charity are: religious instructions (dharma), to get more money by donating a small amount (arth), to satisfy the desires (kaam), out of shame (lajja), out of pleasure (harsh), out of fear (bhaya).
- The six components of daan are – donor, recipient, pure intention behind donating, donation that is accordance with dharma, appropriate place and time.
- The four types of daan are – that last for a long time (dhruv), like building of wells, dharmashaalas etc.; that involve recurring donations (trik); that are for selfish gains (kaamya); that are given on special occasions or places (naimittik).
- The three categories of daan are – best (uttam), medium (madhyam) and lowest (kanishthha).
- The three elements that spoil daan are – the regretful attitude after donating, giving without faith and giving to undeserving.
Let us all take a resolution to build setu in out various facets of life and offer the fruit of virtue of this katha in the feet of Bhagwaan Koteshwar.