॥ શ્રી સ્વામિનારાયણો વિજયતે ॥


Spiritual Discourses

by Bhagwan Swaminarayan

Gadhada I-56

Hollow Stones

On the evening of Mahā vadi 12, Samvat 1876 [11 February 1820], Shriji Mahārāj was sitting on a large, decorated cot on the veranda outside the west-facing rooms in front of the mandir of Shri Vāsudevnārāyan in Dādā Khāchar’s darbār in Gadhadā. He was wearing a white khes and had covered Himself with an orange reto interlaced with golden and silver threads. He had also tied a reto with a deep orange border around His head. At that time, an assembly of munis as well as devotees from various places had gathered before Him. After singing the ‘Nārāyan’ dhunya, some munis were singing devotional songs to the accompaniment of a jhānjh and mrudang.

Thereupon Shriji Mahārāj requested, “Please conclude singing devotional songs and let us conduct a question-answer session for a while.” Having said this, Shriji Mahārāj said, “Here, let Me ask a question.” He then began by saying, “Shri Krishna Bhagwān mentions four types of devotees in the Gitā.1 Of these, the devotee possessing gnān is described as being the best. However, supposing that all four have an equal level of faith in God’s form, how is the one with gnān superior?”

The munis attempted to answer the question but were unable to do so satisfactorily.

Shriji Mahārāj then explained, “The devotee possessing gnān behaves as brahmaswarup and thoroughly realizes the greatness of God. As a result, no desires remain in his mind except for those of God’s form. The other three types of devotees, however, do not fully realize the greatness of God, despite having faith in God. Thus, desires other than those for God still persist. That is why they do not come to par with the devotee possessing gnān. Therefore, if any desires other than those related to God remain in a devotee, it is a serious flaw.

“Another major flaw is when a person who has no worldly desires at all and has intense vairāgya behaves arrogantly on account of that vairāgya. He may have the intense force of knowledge of the ātmā or have the force of resolute bhakti towards God, but if, out of arrogance, he is unable to bow before meek devotees or is unable to address them humbly, then that is also a serious flaw in him. As a result of that flaw, his inclination does not flourish.

“Consider the analogy of a stone-cutter digging a well. If the stone underneath sounds hollow when he strikes it, he predicts, ‘There will be plenty of water in this well.’ But, if the stone sounds solid on the surface, and sparks fly when he strikes it, then the stone-cutter infers, ‘If there is going to be any water in this well at all, there will be very little.’ In the same way, a person who remains arrogant due to the vanity of his gnān, vairāgya and bhakti may be called great, but his greatness will be very limited; he does not imbibe the great virtues imbibed by a humble devotee. Therefore, whosoever wishes to please God should not become arrogant due to the vanity of his gnān, vairāgya and bhakti, or in fact, due to any other noble virtues he may have. As a result, the incarnate form of Shri Krishnanārāyan will become pleased and will reside in the heart of that person.”

Muktānand Swāmi then asked, “Mahārāj, by what method can a person overcome the vanity which arises due to gnān, vairāgya, bhakti, and other noble virtues?”

Shriji Mahārāj replied, “If, while realizing the greatness of God’s devotees, he physically bows down to them, serves them menially, recognizes thoughts of vanity when they arise in his heart and maintains the force of thought, then vanity is eradicated.”

Shriji Mahārāj then continued, “A devotee’s profound, loving bhakti may be so intense that due to that bhakti, God does as that devotee wishes. However, if that devotee develops vanity in his heart due to that bhakti, it constitutes a serious flaw on his part. Also, a devotee may be vain due to his knowledge of the ātmā or due to his vairāgya, but that vanity only serves to strengthen his belief of being the body. Therefore, devotees of God should not harbor any form of vanity whatsoever. That is the only means to please God.

“Furthermore, if introspective devotees of God examine themselves and look inwards towards their own hearts, when even a little vanity arises, they would notice an expression of disgust on the form of God residing within their hearts. Conversely, when they behave humbly, God’s form residing within their hearts would appear to have an extremely pleased expression. Therefore, using the force of thought, a devotee of God should not allow any sort of vanity to arise.

“If, however, vanity does co-exist with gnān, vairāgya and bhakti, it is rather like impurities added to gold. If impurities are added to 24-carat gold, it becomes 22-carat. Adding more impurities renders it 18-carat. Adding even more impurities renders it 12-carat gold. In the same way, as impurities in the form of vanity mix with that devotee’s gnān, vairāgya and bhakti, the purity of all three gradually decreases. Thus, gnān, vairāgya and bhakti devoid of vanity are like 24-carat gold.

“Furthermore, if a person is vain, those virtues of gnān, vairāgya and bhakti may make him appear virtuous superficially, but he does not have any inner-strength. Consider another analogy: This pruthvi, with a surface area of 500,000,000 yojans, supports the oceans, the mountains and all forms of life, and so appears very strong. However, because the pruthvi floats on jal like a dung cake, jal appears to be much stronger than pruthvi. Likewise, tej appears to be much stronger than jal, and vāyu appears to be even stronger than tej. Finally, although it appears to have no strength at all, ākāsh, in fact, is the strongest of them all since it supports all of the other four. Similarly, the virtues of gnān, vairāgya and bhakti of a devotee who has no vanity are as powerful as ākāsh. Although he may not outwardly appear to be so, such a humble devotee is superior to all.

“Moreover, just as an infant never has any feelings of vanity, in the same manner, no matter how much praise or esteem he encounters, a sādhu should always behave without vanity - just like an infant.”

Thereafter Muktānand Swāmi asked another question, “The jiva is distinct from the indriyas, antahkaran and prāns; it is also distinct from the three states - waking, dream and deep sleep - and the three bodies - sthul, sukshma and kāran. After hearing this in Satsang, a firm conviction regarding this fact has been cultivated. Why, then, does the blissful jivātmā still associate with the indriyas, antahkaran, etc., while engaged in the worship and remembrance of Paramātmā and thereby become miserable due to the influence of disturbing thoughts?”

Shriji Mahārāj replied, “Many people become realized yogis, many become omniscient, many become deities, and thus attain countless types of greatness, including the highest state of enlightenment. All this is achieved through the force of the upāsanā of God. Without upāsanā, though, nothing can be accomplished. Therefore, the distinction between ātmā and non-ātmā cannot be realized by merely understanding the distinction as given in the scriptures; nor can it be realized by listening to discourses from a senior sādhu and deciding in one’s mind, ‘I shall now distinguish between ātmā and non-ātmā.’ Rather, it is the extent of a person’s faith in his Ishtadev - God - that determines how much distinction between ātmā and non-ātmā he cultivates. In fact, without using the strength of his Ishtadev, no spiritual endeavors can be fulfilled.

“On the other hand, a person who has profound, loving bhakti for God, like the gopis, has completed all spiritual endeavors. If, however, a person does not have such love, then he should understand the greatness of God in the following way: God is the master of Golok, Vaikunth, Shwetdwip and Brahmamahol. Although He appears to be like a human for the purpose of granting happiness to His devotees, His form in His abodes of Golok, Vaikunth, etc., radiates with the brilliance of millions and millions of suns from each pore of His body. Yet in Mrutyulok, humans serve Him, and He becomes visible only when a small oil lamp is lit in front of Him. Nonetheless, it is He who provides light to all - the sun, the moon, etc. That God is such that Rādhikā, Lakshmi, and His other devotees constantly serve Him in His abodes of Golok, Vaikunth, etc. Following the dissolution of the brahmānds, it is only this incarnate God who remains. Also, it is this same God who, at the time of creation, creates countless millions of brahmānds through Prakruti and Purush.

“Contemplating on God’s greatness in this manner is the only method for understanding the distinction between ātmā and non-ātmā. In addition, the extent of that devotee’s faith in God, coupled with the knowledge of God’s greatness, also determines the amount of vairāgya that develops in that devotee’s heart. Therefore, forsaking one’s dependence on the strength of other spiritual endeavors, one should rely exclusively on the strength of God’s upāsanā.

“Such a devotee believes, ‘However grave a sinner a person may be, if at the end of his life, he utters, ‘Swāminārāyan’, he will be redeemed of all sins and will reside in Brahmamahol. How, then, can there be any doubt about a devotee who has taken refuge in that God attaining the abode of God?’ That is how he understands the greatness of God. Therefore, a devotee of God should increase the strength of their upāsanā of God day by day by practicing satsang.”

Vachanamrut ॥ 56 ॥

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This Vachanamrut took place ago.


1. The four types of devotees described in the Gitā (7.16 & 7.17) are: (1) ārta - one who is distressed from having fallen from the path of attaining yogic powers, and thus still wishes to attain them; (2) jignāsu - one who seeks knowledge of the ātmā, i.e. ātmā-realization; (3) arthārthi - one who desires material objects, i.e. material pleasures and powers; and (4) gnāni - one who has gnān.

Prakaran Gadhada I (78) Sarangpur (18) Kariyani (12) Loya (18) Panchala (7) Gadhada II (67) Vartal (20) Amdavad (3) Gadhada III (39) Bhugol-Khagol Additional (11) Additional Info Vachanamrut Study People in the Vachanamrut Vachanamrut Introduction Vachanamrut Principles Vachanamrut Preface Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Blessings Vachanamrut Calendar Paratharo 4: Auspicious Marks Paratharo 5: Daily Routine Appendices

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