IN A COUNTRY like India, which is as big as Europe, there is bound to be a vast difference of detail in religion as well as the traditions of the different parts. Study of religious treatises, pilgrimages to sacred places and visits to learned pontiffs heled sharpen individual differences and import strange methods with their associated theological vocabulary into every province. The result ing complex pattern of practice always confused the common man or the new entrant, and presented cross-roads to him at every stage of progress. Being uncertain of his method, he felt tempted to change, and wandered aimlessly. Pretenders to religious headship and scholars of the scriptures added to the confusion by quotation and precept. Practice and example either did not exist, or remained dormant, if they did. Day to day worship in a specially installed shrine remained the only mark of religiosity. Vibhooti tripundras with a kumkum spot on the forehead and a small pig tail at the back of the head became the insignia of religious piety and puffed up the owners to eloquent condemnation and preaching. We see even today, several of these self-appointed apostles of orthodoxy, typical specimens of spiritual bankruptcy, hypocritic exploiters of rural inorance, Cistributing themselves judiciously to avoid neighbourly interference by another of their kind.
Seekers after religious solace, happy methodology, peaceful practice, have only these pretenders to help them, and so go to them and get their prescriptions. It will be difficult for anybody to adopt himsell to the particular geometry of a prescribed method. He will very soon get dissatisfied and proceed to another ‘guru’ for fresh instruction. This second teacher flatters himself by approving of the unsuitability of the previous method, and amidst the pomp of a characteristic ceremony financed by the seeker, imparts a mantra to him. A mantra, we know, has helped good many seekers but not all. It is after all a wordy idol, just as good as a metal one, a geo metrical pattern or a bodily position. Practiced with faith and perseverence, it will lead one to his goal. But a mechanical repeti tion of a mantra would only help to keep off less desirable objects from the mind: it will not edify the person doing it. The result is that the person loses faith in its power and seeks for another from a third pontiff.
Some persons find it impossible to conform to the rules and prohibitions of the practice. break them and get alarmed about the dire consequences mentioned by the guru. Other kinds of defections from conditions prescribed, or self-imposed oaths are too. well known to be separately listed here. Such ‘spiritual failures’ turn often neurotic, develop suicidal tendencies or periodic spasms of depression, or they suspect black magic being played on them. Unwary women seeking edification sometimes become the prey to the carnal tendencies of licentious gurus and become permanent moral ‘cripples’, or commit suicide. The bright side of religious practice being dormant, this ugly aspect alone projects into relief. Our suggestion is not that this is quite common but that it is derogatory nough even if such a case occurs once in a way. When young men otherwise not successful in life, take to the Saffron robe to score. easy notoriety, such cases as the above ones would naturally follow. Nor is such fraud confined to men. Ladies are also known to pre tend identity with the Jaganmaatha and go about with their own troupe of young men, for subscriptions to aid the establishment of free feeding houses.
We must remember that it is against this background that we hear the Mother at Jillellamudi answering the requests of her visitors. “Mother, please give me the initiation of the Hamsa mantra”, asked a housewife. “Why?”replied Mother, you have your husband who gives you food, raiment, shelter and love. Worship him. Why do you want a mantra?” The infinite is undrestood and approached through the finite. Daasya bhakti, Sakhya bhakti, Vaathsa. lya bhakti and Madhura bhakti are examples of approach to God through a Lord, friend, child, and lover. Mother points out that a Lousewife could look at God through her husband. She could develop the faith that the Lord of worlds is giving her all-food raiment, protection and love-in the form of her husband. For the worldly as well as spiritual succour, the Lord reaches her through her husband. ‘Husband does not mean the form physical: it is the concept (of God)’ says Mother. The two dises of the taali (or manga lyam) are the feet of the Lord tied round your neck. So long as they are with you, no one can take away your Lord from you”, she told a young lady who was wailing for her husband’s neglect. “Your weeping is not mere shedding of tears. The fire of yearning has entered your heart and is raging. It burns down all attachments and aversions, all egoism. There is no shade of your interest in it. it is nishikaama karma; your limbs act always in its direction and that is hatayoga; your devoted mind controls your limbs and that is bhakti; the presence of the protecting spirit is always there and that is Jnaana. Verily, all yogas get united in this yearning; it is a Mahayoga. You may not know that. The candle too does not know that it is shedding light, while it just Lurns. When your yoga is complete, you will be the jewel of womanhood”, said Mother to Mahalakshmamina. The particular characteristic of this conso lation is the intense positivism that fills Mother’s. guidance. Those that have heard from her, “You need not do anything on your own.That Energy which created this unrest in you. That itself would take you to your goal” would think that she is not giving any guidance. But these words of consolation contain the essence of her seemingly non-commit tal reply. Mother seems to say to Mahalakshmamma (all praise to that blessed lady who has elicited this exhortation from Mother), “You seem to believe that your yearning is nothing, and you are asking for a saadhana. What you are able to do, i.c., this yearning, is actually a Mahayoga, yon may not know: that matters little. It is a confluence of all the yogas nevertheless.”
Mother tells us, “What we are able to do always is our saadhiana”. There can be nothing like the casy way nor the efficient way to salvation. All prescriptions are more easily told than practiced. Seekers need not go to gurus, they could do with since. rity, what they could. This is sadhana; not what they could do by forcing themselves through, according to another’s prescription.
A certain youngman who recited on his own (and hence blessed) initiative, the Lalita ashtottaram before Mother made a request to her: ‘Mother, please give me a mantra-initiation’. Mother promptly replied: I have heard your chanting of the ashtottaram: it is enough, why do you want something else?’ This youngman is an example of the seekers we spoke of earlier. He does not realise that sadhana is a devoted yearning, but not an artificial exercise. He asks for the latter. Mother who saw a bit of yearning in his spontaneous chanting, approved of it. We have no information about what he did thereafter, but what a pity! Men go about to buy ghee with the butter they have! If they stick to their humble’ way, He who is poorer than the poorest will Himself take them along. “The same Initiative which started you acting will take you long’ is Mother’s word,
‘I collected some sovereigns, Mother,’ said a goldsmith, ‘to build a temple. I could not accomplish it however. Now 1 am ill and one malady after another is beseiging me for that sin. Save me, Mother, I pray’. Well, a temple need not necessarily be built in stone, replied Mother, ‘build it in your heart with the Lord’s name’. She confirmed his idea of building a temple but she did not prescribe; only she made it easier for him to do what he intended.
We read in Matrusri. 1.3. page 36, about a girl Girija doing Hanuman chalisa, and getting into an unconscious state. Her father got alarmed and sought Mother’s advice. Leave her alone. Her method will help her’ was Her advice. The devotion which pushed her into one state will itself push her further’. These examples show Mother’s recept about practice. She clears the doubts and inhibitions which linger in the minds of her visitors. “Can ladies do Lalita sahasram Mother? They say that some higu offering is to be made, asked a lady. ‘Oh yes, you can do. When the mind itself is offered, where is the question of a higher offering?’ replied Mother. Is praanaayaama a good method?”, was a question. Apart from its being a method, it is good for health’ was the reply. Mother does not advocate passivity in religious practice, She approves whatever one is able to do. There is no particular method for salvation. Whatever is possible for you, that one is the way for emancipation’.