Katha Chopais

Mahimaa taasu kahai kimi tulsi | Bhagati subhaay sumati hiyan hulsi ||
Aapu chhoti mahimaa badi jaani | Kabi-kul kaani maani sakuchaani ||

How can I, Tulsidas, speak of his (Bharat Jee’s) glory? It is the devotion and noble sentiments that inspired sublime thoughts in Tulsidas Jee’s mind.
Tulsidas Jee was humbled and felt his smallness in front of Bharat Jee’s greatness and he could not go beyond his poetic limitations.

Katha Translations

Welcome and pranaam to all from Surat. Tulsidas jee considers Bharat jee as his Sadaguru; and as seen from his chaupai – ‘Sadgur gyaan biraag jog key..’ he indicates that Shri Ram Charit Manas is also a Sadaguru. There are seven characteristics of a Sadaguru that help people to recognize him and thus they are evident both in Bharat jee and Shri Ram Charit Manas. They are as follows.

1) Tapa – Bal kand is full of penance. The main characters who have followed the path of ‘tapa’ are Uma and Manu-Shatrupa. Even Naarad jee’s tapa is mentioned here.
A Sadaguru bears baseless criticism of people with grace. Public acclaim does not move him either. A Sadaguru keeps a balanced mind to assimilate both negative and positive reactions of the society.

2) Tyaag – Ayodhya Kand displays the race of abandoning for the other. Bhagwaan Ram leaves the throne for Bharat jee and he in turn tries to return it to him.
A Sadaguru may or may not abandon the material things, but he is definitely free of attachment towards them. Tyaag is not just forsaking the worthless, but it is actually holding on to the auspicious elements.

3) Teertha – In Aranya Kand, Bhagwaan Ram visited the places of Rishis and Munis (sages). It is a kind of his pilgrim journey.
A Sadaguru is a mobile pilgrimage. His holiness is equal to that of any pilgrim place.

4) Taarunya – The entry of Hanuman jee (who is a symbol of ageless ness) takes place in Kishkindha kand. Bali , Sugreev and Angad symbolize the youth factor.
A Sadaguru is the one whose spiritual energy never fades away; rigid customs or rituals do not bind him.

5) Tadap – The anxiety of Bhagwaan Ram and ma Jaanaki to meet each other is clear in Sunder kaand. Even Hanuman jee is eager to meet Vibheeshan and the Ma Sita. A Sadaguru’s is always eager to share his spiritual wealth with the aspirants. He is not a narrow-minded person.

6) Tejasvita – Raavan has been called as ‘avataar’ by Kaag-Bhusundi jee and thus at the time of his death in Lanka Kand, Tulsidas jee indicates his ‘tej’ (magnificence)-‘ Taasu tej samaan prabhu aanan..’ A Sadaguru spiritual radiance is evident in his personality.

7) Tript – Uttar kand culminates with total contentment of Tulsidas jee-‘Paayo param vishraam ram samaan prabhu naahin kahun’.
A Sadaguru is absolutely contented with himself; his satisfaction does not depend on others.

Bapu began today’s katha with, “my greetings to all on the occasion of ‘Gujarat day’. I remember all the great literary people of Gujarat with

Bapu began today’s katha with, “my greetings to all on the occasion of ‘Gujarat day’. I remember all the great literary people of Gujarat with regard and also all the noted and talented people of Gujarat in various fields.”

Tulsidas jee presents an undeniable fact through this Doha –‘ Bharatu janaku munijan sachiv saadhu sachet bihaai | Laagi dev-maaya sabahi jatha-jogu janu paai ||’ (302). He says that everyone gets influenced by maaya (material illusion) in some way or the other except Bharat jee, Janak jee, some munis, minister (who follows the path of truth and dispassion) and aware saadhu (who does not impose his sect on others and does not create groupism in society). The mentioned people remain unscathed by delusion.

When we pick up the word, ‘Mahimaa’ (greatness), then let us discuss that what does it exactly mean. A person is truly great (mahimaa-vant) when he has a positive impact on the people in the following three ways.

  1. His darshan (glimpse) does not let a person feel lowly (inferiority complex). A Look at a ‘mahima-vant’ person makes the viewer feel good.
  2. His bhajan (way of devotion) inspires others and it becomes a reason for blooming of others’ intellect.
  3. His swabhaav (nature) makes others joyful. His nature is so intriguing that it cannot be described in words.

A truly distinguished person’s influence is never harmful for others. He is a source of inspiration for others.

Question – what are the four fruits in the Doha –‘Shriguru charan saroj raj nij manu mukuru sudhaari | Baranaun raghubar bimal jasu jo daayaku fal chaari ||’ (Hanumaan chalisa).
Bapu’s answer – ‘The fruits that are commonly quoted are dharma, arth, kaam and moksha. But I think these are efforts (purushaartha) for actual fruits.

  1. The actual fruit of dharma (religion) is dispassion (vairaagya) and the nectar of this fruit is devotion in the feet of the Lord.
  2. The fruit of arth (wealth) is the material facility and not pleasure (sukh). The real pleasure is to share the wealth with others.
  3. The fruit of kaam (desire) is experienced when it leads to Ram (spirituality).
  4. The fruit of moksha (salvation) is freedom from delusion while living in the world.

There is a difference between mrityu (death) and jeevan-mukti. Mrityu happens when the body dies but desires live. But jeevan-mukti is when a person becomes free of all the desires while alive.

A mind of a person breeds on the incidents of past and plans of future. A person can experience freedom from mental stress if he focuses only on the present.

An aspirant should not wait or expect the Sadaguru to acknowledge him as a disciple; he should rather just accept one as Sadaguru. When he surrenders himself in the feet of Sadaguru with absolute devotion, he himself becomes a guru. Then, the alliance between the two results in maitri (friendship) like that of Shri Krishna and Arjun.

Katha is not a religious seminar; it is a medium for cleansing the mind. Everyone is welcome here, as there is no distinction of religion here.

Keep smiling and make others smile!

A person may be considered as mahima-vant (distinguished) due to three factors.

  1. Prabhaav – Impact due to knowledge/personality/status in the society.
  2. Swabhaav – Nature that touches the heart of all.
  3. Abhaav – The detached attitude of saintly people creates an aura of greatness (fakiri).

The prabhaav is discussed in Shri Ram Charit Manas ‘ Jinhahi birachi bada bhayau bidhaata | Mahima avadhi ram pitu maata ||’ – Dasarath jee and Kausalya jee are so great that even the creator achieved greatness after creating them.

The swabhaav of the supreme power is indicated by Tulsidaas jee –

‘Binu pada chalayi sunayi binu kaana | Kar binu karam karayi bidhi naana ||
‘Aanan rahit sakal rasa bhogi | Binu baani bakataa bada jogi ||
‘Tana binu paras nayan binu dekha | Grahayi ghraan binu baas asekha ||
‘Asi sab bhaanti alaukik karani | Mahima jaasu jaai nahin barani ||’

The supreme power is such that he walks without feet, listens without ears, works without hands, speaks without words, touches without body, sees without eyes and smells without nose. The supremacy of Almighty cannot be described.

Bharat jee indicates the abhaav factor –

‘Bhooshan basan bhoge sukh bhoori | Mana tana bachan tajey tin toori ||
‘Tehin par basat bharat binu raaga | Chanchareek jimi champak baaga ||’

The detachment of Bharat jee, in spite of having a choice of possessing everything, makes him mahima-vant.

Bapu says, ‘ I can assure that if you read (do paatth) Shri Ram Charit Manas with total faith and devotion, it can alter your destiny for better. But the important condition is absolute faith.’

If you are really sincere to improve your life, then try never to pronounce any one as bad. The creation is a combination of both positive and negative; therefore, even the evil person may have some good qualities. Try not to think adversely for anyone. An aspirant should also be careful that he does not remain remorseful about own weaknesses also. Think positive for others and yourself too.

There are several steps of speech:

  1. Silence- silence can convey without words.
  2. Truth- truthful words remains undeniable.
  3. Polite truth- truth should not hurtful.
  4. Speech should be adorned by concrete thoughts.
  5. Speech should be in accordance with shastras.
  6. Do not be harsh to people who do not understand your words, be quiet.

In ‘guru-vandana’ of Shri Ram Charit Manas, Tulsidas jee mentions three things of Sadaguru –

  1. Guru charan raja (dust of his feet) depicts the abhaav or his simplicity.
  2. Guru pada nakh jyoti (glow of his feet’s nails) signifying his prabhaav which grants a divine vision to the disciple.
  3.   Guru pada padum paraaga – indicates that Sadaguru’s way of life is like that of a lotus as he remains unscathed by materialism of the world, in spite of living in it.

The presence of Sadaguru is an indispensable part of spiritual journey. The fastest way to reach the Sadaguru is ‘smaran’ (remembrance). Sadaguru comes to the shishya through this route. Just like the meru of a mala comes closer with passing of each bead. Sadaguru always hides himself as he behaves in a very ordinary manner. He never shows the enormity of his personality, only a true shishya gets to know about it.

A Sadaguru has three major characteristics:

  1. He understands that I’m nothing, but a form of supreme power.
  2. He understands that I don’t possess anything in this world.
  3. He understands that I don’t need anything.

Question – do you believe in communalism?
Bapu’s answer – It is better to be common than communal. I try to remain common by always remembering my roots.

Lesser the wishes, more the peace!

A christian priest Fr.(Dr.) Kamilmulke has written a book on Valmiki Ramayana, ‘Ramkatha’. He writes that once he asked a Muslim person that why he read the Ramayana. The Muslim replied that Ramayana helped him in being a good Muslim. Bapu welcomed the representatives of various religions and expressed his happiness that they were present in Ramkatha today.

In Shri Ram Charit Manas, there is a description of mahima of 16 elements. It is first used in Bal kand to express the boundless virtues of a saadhu- ‘ Bidhi hari har kabi kobid baani | Kahat saadhu mahima sakuchaani ||’. Tulsidas jee starts mahima with an indication to vast greatness of a saadhu.

Who can be called a saadhu? A particular attire or symbol can be a pointer of a specific path of way of worship. But such an outer appearance does not mean that person is a saadhu. One should check the following 9 points to confirm an actual saadhu, whose mahima is infinite.

  1. Bharpoor Saumyata – full of tranquillity. Even Bhagwaan Vishnu (who is supposed to be a personification of calmness) seems a bit trivial in comparison as it is seen in shastras that he uses shraap (curse) at some points. But a saadhu never loses his calm.
  2. Komalta – softhearted. Tulsidas jee says that a saadhu’s heart is softer than the butter as it melts immediately when he sees others’ pain –‘ Nij paritaap dravayi navaneeta | Par dukh dravahin sant su-puneeta||’
  3. Su-hridayata – sensitive. A saadhu is free of distinctions of caste, creed, religion etc.
  4. Udaarta – generous and can never be a miser.
  5. Sahan-sheeltaa – tolerant as goes through all kinds of reactions of people.
  6. Satyata – truthful.
  7. Sunderta – radiance of over-all personality.
  8. Niraabhimaanita – free of ego in spite of being able.
  9. Bheetari swasthata – total mental fitness.

God is never too far from us. He is only at a distance till your voice/call reaches. Never think Him to be too distant.

Each lie is a death (whenever you lie, you die). Doubting others leads to death. Lethargy is a form of death and putting faith at a wrong place is also a death.

Never lie or hide anything from your Sadaguru. He knows everything, but might not say due to his large-heartedness and to prevent you from embarrassment.

If your wishes get fulfilled, it is Hari-kripa. If not, then accept God’s will as it is Hari-ichchha for your advantage. If you adopt and understand this sutra, you will become free of stress.

Today is Shrimad Vallabhacharya’s jayanti. Greetings to all on this occasion and our salutation to the great acharya, who gave the path/philosophy of ‘pushti maarg’ to the world. He said-‘chinta kvaapi na kaaryaat’, which means that if a devotee worries, he insults the capability of his Lord. Jai Shri Krishna to all!!

Question – What is truth and how is it? Katha touches the heart, but we sometimes wonder if all that is said is true?
Bapu’s Answer – “Only truth itself can define the wholeness of truth. But, in my journey for search of truth, whatever I’ve experienced with guru-kripa and whatever I share here is the truth of my life.”

Question – Can we look around while doing japa on maala?
Bapu’s answer – Yes, you can look around but with such a mentality that each person around is a bead of my maalaa (rosary). The whole creation is the form of my Lord.

Bhakti means knowing the nature of God and building a relationship with Him. We get to know the nature when we stay near or around but the relationship’s strength is gauged when there is a certain distance. It is good to stay around your Sadaguru, but it is even better to keep a certain distance for building a strong bond.

The one who hits your mind first at the time of waking up is the one with whom your heart truly gels. He is the one who has made a place in your nature.

Worshipping ways of the Lord should be made simplest so as to encourage everyone in the spiritual path. Rigid ways of some religions have made worship patterns difficult to understand and thus inaccessible for all. The worship of the Almighty should be burden-less and in accordance with your nature.

The charitra (character) of Bharat jee can also be classified in seven parts, like said for Shri Ram Charit Manas on the first day of this katha.

  1. Tapa – Bharat jee’s main tapa (penance) in his life was to be always away from Bhagwaan Ram, who was his subject of devotion. Right from childhood games, he had to be in the opposite team of Bhagwaan Ram. Later, he stayed mostly at his maternal grandparents’ place. Then, he lived in Nandigram when Bhagwaan Ram was in Chitrakoot.
  2. Tyaag – Bharat jee’s emotional outburst at MaKaikeyi when he got to know about Vana-vaas of Bhagwaan Ram and then his refusal to accept the throne signifies his tyaag (detachment).
  3. Teerth – Bharat jee’s yaatra to Chitrakoot with the people of Ayodhya to meet Bhagwaan Ram, via Shringberpur and Prayaag was his teertha yaatra (pilgrimage).
  4. Taarunya – Bharat jee’s novel thoughts in the various meetings of Chitrakoot denote his unmarked mind.
  5. Tadap – Bharat jee’s readiness to send back Bhagwaan Ram to Ayodhya and himself staying in Chitrakoot shows his concern for Bhagwaan Ram.
  6. Tej – Bharat jee lived in the shadow of Paaduka of Bhagwaan Ram. It brought radiance in his persona.
  7. Tripti – Once Bhagwaan Ram came back to Ayodhya and established Ram-rajya, Bharat jee could not be seen much; it marks Bharat jee’s contentment of living in the reign of Bhagwaan Ram.

Do not pronounce your vrat (resolution) publicly. Declaration brings the risk of breaking it. The biggest vrat is to maintain truth (satya-vrat) and being always sincere in your devotion (prem-vrat).

In olden times (In India), five primary things used to happen at the banks a flowing river.

  1. Snaan – people used to bathe in the water of the river.
  2. Paan -people used the river water to quench their thirst.
  3. Gaan – people used to recite stotras (verses) on the bank.
  4. Dhyaan – river bank was an appropriate place for meditation.
  5. Daan – donation to the needy was done at riverbank.

Ram katha is also a Ganga. People should take a dip (snaan) in it by listening with attention for cleansing their minds. If a person’s prejudice or stubborn-ness does not let him listen properly, then one should go to a katha for at least 10 minutes (paan) to taste the affect of holy katha. But, if one is unable to come to katha due to some reason, then he should hum chaupais (gaan) at home. A person can even think about the sutras (dhyaan) of katha wherever he is. And if all the above options are not possible, then at least donate for a good cause. But, lastly, if you can’t even donate anything, then please take a resolution to give a smile to others.

Every person should take a pledge to donate 10% of his earning towards charity. It is a social responsibility of every individual to share his earning with the needy who need it more. This can bring an end to misery of many and solve many social problems.

Katha is a successful medium to create ‘aastha’ (faith) in a person’s life and create ‘vyavastha’ (cordial atmosphere) in the society. A saadhu also does the same. But, he should maintain the awareness that all his capability is due to the grace of the Almighty.

In every circumstance of your life, you should never abandon ‘Hari-smaran’ (remembering the Lord). Hanuman jee was chanting Ram-naam when he was flying with Drona-giri (mountain with medicine to cure Laxman jee), but when Bharat jee saw him above Ayodhya, he thought that might be some devil. Bharat jee threw an arrow at Hanuman jee and he fell down. But at that time also, Hanuman jee kept on chanting Harinaam. This is a clear indication by Tulsidas jee that when you pass through ups and downs of life, never leave Harinaam.

Shri Ram Charit Manas can be also said as Bharat charit manas as the character of Bharat jee goes hand-in-hand with Bhagwaan Ram. Both were born around the same time. They grew up together and then both were married at the same time. When Bhagwaan Ram went to forest at Ma kaikeyi’s demand from Dasarath jee, at that time Bharat jee lived in Nandigram; it was a vana-vaas in his own away. Bhagwaan Ram had to bear separation from Jaanaki jee and Bharat Jee from Maandavi jee. Both kept Paaduka with themselves. Bhagwaan Ram killed Raavan (personified delusion or moha) and Bharat jee destroyed almost all the faults resulting from moha. Both wound up their lives in a very graceful manner.

‘Jaun na hote jaga janam bharat ko | Sakal dharam dhur dharani dharat ko ||’

Tulsidas jee says that Bharat jee adopted the main sutra of every dharma:

  • The Islam religion does not believe in idol-worship; Bharat jee did not keep any image as the subject of his worship. He used to obey the Paaduka of Bhagwaan Ram and paaduka is not just made of wood, it is actually made up of guru-element (tatva).
  • Bharat jee adopted the message of service and love of Christianity.
  • Compassion of Budhhism was seen in Bharat jee’s life.
  • Jainism advocated non-violence; Bharat jee stopped Shatrughna jee when he was hitting Manthara, therefore his non-violence is evident through this gesture.
  • The allegiance towards the Almighty is taught by Sikhs. Bharat jee’s faith and commitment towards Bhagwaan Ram is well known.
  • The inter-personal cordiality of Parsis is also seen in Ayodhya.

‘Taat bharat tumha sab bidhi saadhu | Ram charan anuraag agaadhu ||’

Some saadhu is a follower of the path of knowledge (gyaan), some of action (karma) and some of devotion (bhakti). Bharadwaaj jee pronounced that Bharat jee was the one saadhu who had amalgamation of all the qualities of every kind of saadhu.

A person goes through four yugas in every day life and can practice the respective prescribed methods of worship in feasible manner.

Sata yuga – The morning time is considered to be sata yuga and it is most suitable for meditation.

Treta yugaThe time of 10am to 5pm is said to be treta yuga. It is a yuga of ‘yagna’ and one should do their job/work during these hours with the mentality of doing yagna.

Dwaapar yugaEvening time is dwaapar yuga in everyday. Pooja is an ideal form of worship in this time, but if one cannot get involved in doing ritualistic worship of God, then pooja can be in the form of helping the needy and even taking care of family members.

Kali yugaNight time is considered to be kali yuga and it is best for chanting Harinaam.

One should take a vrat (resolution) of keeping patience (dheerta) and maintaining silence (maun)- this can be called as ‘Ahalya vrat’.

Bharat jee’s character had five main prominent thoughts:

  1. Vipad vichaar Everyone goes through difficult circumstances in life at some or the other point of time. But, one can pass through them without being too stressed with the help of patience and courage. Nothing is permanent here, so crisis also does not last forever; it is bound to go away. Bharat jee spent the years away from Bhagwaan Ram with this kind of serenity.
  2. Vastu vichaar – While living in this world, one comes across many kinds of things. But one should use the material things in the best possible way (without exploiting them) and with a mentality that this is prasaad (blessing) from Almighty). One should not get obsessed by material possessions, but take care of them like a caretaker. Bharat jee looked after Ayodhya in the absence of Bhagwaan Ram, but never tried to dominate it. He always maintained that awareness that after all everything belongs to Bhagwaan Ram.
  3. Vishaya vichaar – An aspirant should appropriately treat the material comforts and maintain the mental detachment from them. Bharat jee did not get influenced by any of them in the ashram of Bharadwaaj jee who provided best of luxury. This is possible when one keeps faith on the Lord that only He can save from the attraction of material pleasures. Faith works immensely; the clearest example is of Bhakta Narsinha mehta who had such a sound trust on God that Bhagwaan Krishna came in person to manage his work.
  4. Vivek vichaar – Bharat jee’s wisdom is evident in the meetings of Chitrakoot, where he gives all the options to bring back Bhagwaan Ram in Ayodhya. But, at last his ultimate statement-‘ Jehi bidhi prabhu prasann mana hoi | Karuna-saagar keejiya soi ||’ shows his highest form of understanding where there is a merger of wisdom and devotion. He surrenders everything and leaves the decision to Bhagwaan Ram. Bhagwaan Ram says that Bharat jee is like a Hans who can distinguish between the worthless and valuable. This kind of wisdom comes through satsang. There is difference between intellect (budhhi) and wisdom (vivek); Even an illiterate person can be extremely wise.
  5. Vairaagya vichaar – Bharat jee lived with total dispassion in Nandigram, his devotion was absolutely focussed in the feet of Bhagwaan Ram- ‘ Tehin par basat bharat binu raaga | Chanchareek jimi champak baaga ||’. If one is able to cultivate this kind of mental dispassion, it is essential for him to not to make it too evident to people around him.

Just like a body is made up of five elements, Bharat jee’s personality was made up of these five thoughts.

It is said that God comes at the critical moment when you need him the most. But Bapu says that whoever helps you at the critical moment is God in some form or the other.

In ‘Guru-geeta’, Bhagwaan Shankar mentions some of the features of a Sadaguru whom he calls as ‘param-guru’. He says that just like an ocean is a king of all water-bodies, Sadaguru is the head of all gurus in the world. He is free of moha (delusion) and other related faults and they never bind him. He is as calm from inside as he appears from outside. He is so self-content that his joy is never dependent on others. The riches of the world are insignificant and he experiences continual joy without any of them. He is free from arguments and does discussion on anything that is for betterment of all. He lives in the light of self-realization and destroys the darkness of aspirants’ life. Just a glimpse of his can create delight in the hearts of the looker. He is extremely patient and it is important for the aspirant to be patient in order to remain with him.

A statement/thought is important but the more important factor is that who speaks it. The value of any statement is gauged by the fact that who propagates it.

It is not easy to describe the various facets of Shri Ram Charit Manas in any limited time. Therefore, I’ll take up this topic of ‘Manas-Mahima’ again in one more katha wherever God inspires.

Ram rajya can be created at every level. If there is cordiality and affection amongst the family members, the Ram rajya is in the family also.

There should be three types of results of katha:

  1. End of doubts.
  2. Opening of wings like Garuda- one gets ready to adopt and implement the sutras of katha in life.
  3. ‘Kritaarth bhaav’- the listener is filled with gratitude.

Let us offer the fruit of virtue of this katha in the feet of Ma Taapi ( river of Surat ).

Haraye namah..Haraye namah..Haraye namah. Jai SiyaRam!