Sisters and Brothers,

? Your sadhana1 session here in the auspicious period of Navaratri2 is coming to an end. Let us now take stock of what we did in this period and why?  While discussing the answers to these two questions it will also become clear to you what should be the effect of this sadhana and what benefits should be expected from it?

? So let us first have a look at your strict routine here. In your homes most of you, as per the modern routine, prefer or are used to sleeping late in the night and getting up still later next morning. (What to say, if it happens to be a holiday!). And here?  The strict schedules here have compelled you to get up at 3:30 am! Not only getting up early, you also have to take bath quickly. What is that? You have been taught to bring drastic changes in your habits for your own betterment. Now there is no place for laziness in your entire day.

? Other important change is that in the quality and timings of your food. I do not know what you often used to eat at your place. But I suppose usually people like to eat spicy, fried, lavish food; the meals everyday are also full of oily stuffs, and pickles and chatanis, papads and what not. Sweet-dish is also taken quite frequently! But here we have constrained you!  You are to eat austere and almost tasteless (by your standards) food here. Back home you used to eat casually whatever and whenever you feel like.

? Your other activities are also restrained. You see, now you are made to sit at least for about three hours everyday to complete the assigned number (twenty-seven rosaries, i.e., 27X108 times) of japa3 of the sacred Gayatri Mantra.  This is part of the discipline of your Gayatri Anushthan Sadhana. You are told that, if you break the discipline, your sadhana will be disturbed which will amount to annoying the Goddess Gayatri and hence be regarded as a sin. This is part of psychological conditioning of your mind. Your faith together with this warning has alarmed your mind so much that it has suddenly become somewhat obedient these days!

? Duration of this sadhana session is nine days only.  But this is only a short-term training and exposure to different aspects of sadhana. This is to teach you and give you a first-hand exposure of how you should discipline your life to achieve something worthwhile. I am not quite sure whether you could really learn anything. But you must take note of one thing. What is that? You must understand the definition of ‘Spirituality’ — adhyatma, the Science of Soul.
Generally people think of it as an occult subject matter of spirituality or a ritualistic religious practice of pleasing some deity and fetching Her blessings for worldly gains. This is all baseless. Do you think God is some dumb pleasure-hungry Being that showers blessings upon listening to your devotional chants and prayers in His praise and upon receiving your offerings made for his worship? Or, is He an invisible magician whose idol will be enshrined by you on some silver or gold-made throne in grand temple and then you will decorate it, offer lavish food as ‘puja prasada’, garlands and valuables and ‘pray’ for fulfilling your long list of desires and wishes?

? Do you think of spirituality or spiritual practices of japa etc, as some tool to press your appeals, demands or needs before Him for some special favors?  All this is meaningless.  Don’t make fool of yourself and don’t degrade your religious faith. Do you think the Omniscient is a ‘pigeon’ that will be attracted to eat the ‘grains’ of your offerings of worship rituals, flowers, incense sticks, sweets, alms, etc?  Is the Almighty a ‘fish’ that may be caught in the ‘net’ of your so-called spiritual practices?

? Do you think the principles of our great science of yoga, the purpose of immense life-long ascetic practices (tapashcharya) and devout sadhanas carried out by our divine rishis (Vedic Sages) and their teachings based on self-experiences are so shallow or hypocritical?

? You better get rid of your crazy conceptions and illusory convictions of spirituality and God.  Also wane out your religious prejudices. Otherwise, you will keep wandering in the labyrinth of your own folly and achieve nothing for the whole life.  No amount of your efforts of worship, chanting, or pilgrimage would render you any result. Your superficial ‘religiosity’ and ostentatious devotion may swell your false pride but in reality it will only weaken your inner self and retard your spiritual progress.

? I therefore insist that you must, I repeat, you must, learn at least one thing from this session. And that is – you must now be aware of the true meaning, principles and purpose of spirituality and spiritual sadhanas. So please note! Spirituality is the science of soul. It is the science of purifying and awakening the inner self and orienting the activities of life according to the soul-voice. Do not confuse it with any occult subject of ghosts, etc or, with any kind of magic or astonishing experience. Nor should you dream of attaining supernatural powers or potentials from spiritual endeavors of sadhanas.

? In simplest terms, spirituality is a science of elevation, enlightenment and evolution of human life.  It trains you in the art of carving a fulfilling and praiseworthy life. It teaches you how to be a better person, how to improve your thoughts and actions in the righteous direction so as to make best use of your capabilities and excel your qualities and potentials to the highest levels.

? Savants say that there is no problem that does not have a solution, no hardship that cannot be overcome by a prepared mind.  If you get rid of your shortcomings and learn to manage your resources and abilities efficiently, then you will be able to resolve most of the problems in your life. Thus, spirituality provides you solutions to tackle all problems in your life.

? Let us try to understand how it happens. So let us consider some common problems faced by people today. Suppose you have some physical health problems. I will now explain how the principles and practices of spirituality help you eliminate this problem. Have you ever thought why does a disease attack some persons and not some others living in almost similar environmental conditions?  Once someone asked the ‘diseases’ – “Why do you keep wandering and spreading here and there and troubling the people?  This is not fair”. They (the diseases) responded — “We go only to those who invite us by imbalanced and uncontrolled life-style”.

? Did you get the point? Indeed, the root-cause of all infirmities, all diseases, all kinds of physical sicknesses is — unrestrained use, even misuse of the natural power of sense-organs and adoption of irregular, haphazard life-styles. These are the obvious cause of weakening of the sense organs and the associated components inside the body and further disturbing the digestive system. It also shatters the defense mechanism (immune system) of the body]. Have you ever heard or read in any scientific books of wild animals falling ill? No, they only die their natural death or are killed by their predators. Because they live in perfect consonance with what Nature has set for them.  So whatever be the name of the disease and the ‘characterization’ of its cause, the fact is that at the root of all this is your negligence, your indiscipline.

? It is up to what you invite (by your actions). If you invite diseases or associated adversities, you will get them. Now if you want to get rid of these you should uproot this primary cause. You may get ‘cured’ by heavy doses of medication but don’t forget it would only be a suppression of symptoms, a temporary relief. Unless you set your system right and take preventive measures, it will recur or occur in some other form. So, most importantly, you should control the greed of the tongue and also restrain the misuse of other sense organs as well.  Also, set a schedule for everyday to make thoughtful, industrious and productive use of your time. And strictly follow what you have scheduled for the day.  Then see who dares make you sick?

? Mahatma Gandhi was in the early thirties of his age when he had severe problem of constipation. He had so much difficulty, as though his intestines had shrunk; he had to take anima almost every day for excretion. He was in South Africa around that time. He has written in his diary that he used to think he would survive only for four to five years more. If suppose his anima set is stolen or misplaced, or if he were stuck in some forest during a tour, then he would have an untimely death due to this problem, he used to think.  He used to be worried about his health. But, as we all know, nothing of this sort happened. Instead of getting depressed he faced the challenge boldly.

? He took support of naturopathy and followed its principles throughout his life thereafter. He disciplined his diet and routine and gradually healed the problem himself. Though thin, he remained physically strong thereafter. He used to say that he would survive upto the age of hundred and twenty years. I think, he would have certainly, had he not been shot dead at the age of eighty.

? If Gandhiji’s intestines could become healthy, his sickness could be healed, then why not yours? Why can’t it happen with you? Do you know who the nearest enemy of your health is, or what is the biggest barrier that hinders your efforts of disciplining yourself? It is your own tongue that you have let free like a wild cat.

? It may sound bitter but it is true in one way or the other that it is the avarice of your tongue which eats your stamina, maligns your blood, ‘squeezes’ your blood and weakens your crucial body-functions like metabolism and immune response. Germs and viruses might be there, atmospheric environment might be polluted, but these would not have affected you, had your body’s resistance and vitality been strong.  I can vouch on behalf of the diseases that if you restrain your tongue, discipline the other sense organs and make adequate use of your physical labor, diseases dare not assail you.

? There are many examples where people not only got rid of their health problems but also became very stout. They observed the above disciplines to live in consonance with the natural system of human-body and made extra efforts to strengthen their immune system. Chandgiram suffered from tuberculosis in his young age. No medicines could check his disease and his doctors had almost lost the hopes of his ever getting cured. One of his acquaintances, who had come to see this patient, advised him to eat balanced and healthy food at regular timings and go for walk regularly. He also advised the specific type of healthy food intake and some exercises and told – “If you love death then continue your present routine and if you love healthy life, then follow what I have suggested”.  The patient followed the wise advice and continued the disciplined diet and physical exercises even after he was cured. Gradually he gained strength and increased the exercises so much that this thin and weak TB patient eventually became the well known wrestler “Master Chandgiram”.

? All of you have the hidden potential of gaining and sustaining good health and becoming strong like a wrestler. You can mould the circumstances in your favor; you can be happy and hearty even in this stressful world of today. But what to say friends! You are very good at observing the shortcomings of others, but hardly notice your own weaknesses. You often remain unaware of your bad habits; even if you do, you prefer finding some excuses and don’t make substantial efforts to change or improve them.  You don’t even feel to restrain yourself.  That is why you can’t be the followers or seekers of spirituality. You may only be called weak, helpless slaves of your own habits.