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BABAMANI Sri Sri Swarupananda Paramhansa Deva
                              WHO IS GOD?
Since yoga is a practical matter, we need some workable, pragmatic understanding of the nature of God. For how will we seek and recognise Him if we have no idea who He is? Patanjali supplies us with exactly the kind of definition we need: “Ishwara is a particular Spirit Who is untouched by the afflictions of life, actions [karma] and the results and impressions [conditionings] produced by these actions.” (Yoga Sutras 1:24) 

The unique Being 

God is a Person in the fullest sense of the term. Furthermore, He is a special, unique Person–not just abstract Existence or Being. God is a “particular” being in the sense that God can be “picked out” or “singled out” from among all other things or beings. 
Though God is within all things and all things are within Him, yet He stands apart. “They are contained in me, but I am not in them…I stand apart from them all, supreme and deathless” (Bhagavad Gita 7:12, 13). “For my spirit stands apart, watching over Maya, the maker” (Bhagavad Gita 9:9). “Standing apart, He sustains” (Bhagavad Gita 13:14). “He is within and without: He lives in the live and the lifeless: subtle beyond mind’s grasp; so near us, so utterly distant” (Bhagavad Gita 13:15). “Although I am not within any creature, all creatures exist within me” (Bhagavad Gita 9:4).           
For God is unique in the sense that He is Ekam Evam Advityam Brahman–the God Who is One, Only, Without a Second. 
OmHe is not one of many, nor is He even one of two. He is ONE in every sense of the term. God is neither conditioned nor confined in any manner. Therefore He is not touched or tainted by the afflictions or faults of life (relative existence), in contrast to us who live within them as though they were the air we breathe and the basis of our existence. Nor is Ishwara bound or in any way conditioned by actions; therefore He is ever unchanging. 

Infinite Consciousness: Omniscience 

God is the essence and the apex of Consciousness, so Patanjali further says: “In Him is the highest limit of omniscience.” (Yoga Sutras 1:25) Commenting on this, Shankara says: “The all-pervading mind of the supreme Lord is in simultaneous contact with every object.” The omniscience of God is total and absolute, for in truth God is Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence.  
 Then for the yogi Patanjali introduces a significant fact. He does not just say that omniscience (sarvajña) is in God, but that the seed of omniscience (sarvajña bijam) is in Him. Within God is the seed or potentiality of omniscience for those who are united with Him through their practice of yoga. Omniscience is not just objective knowledge, but infinity of consciousness–the Being of God Himself. 

The two Selves 
“Who am I?” is the age-old question asked with “Who is God?” The true “I” of each sentient being is the individual spirit, the self (atman). But there is more. God (Brahman) is the Self of the self–as the ocean is the “self” of every wave. The illumined know that they are the immortal self whose ultimate Self is the Immortal Itself. We are spirits within Spirit, in a wondrous way both ourselves and Brahman, both finite and infinite. 
“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the selfsame tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes. The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he recognises the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his glory, he grieves no more.” (Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1,2) 
“That being who is the power of all powers, and is born as such, who embodies himself in the elements and in them exists, and who has entered the lotus of the heart, is the immortal self.” (Katha Upanishad 2:1:7) 
“In the effulgent lotus of the heart dwells Brahman, who is passionless and indivisible. He is pure, he is the light of lights. Him the knowers of the self attain.” (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.9) 
“Brahman is supreme; he is self-luminous, he is beyond all thought. Subtler than the subtlest is he, farther than the farthest, nearer than the nearest. He resides in the lotus of the heart of every being.” (Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.7) 
“He who glows in the depths of your eyes–that is Brahman; that is the Self of yourself. He is the Beautiful One, he is the Luminous One. In all theworlds, forever and ever, he shines!” (Chandogya Upanishad 4:15:1) 
Meditation is the key to knowledge of the self and the Self of the self. Knowing one, both are known–so say the sages. “Wise, self-controlled, and tranquil souls, who are contented in spirit, and who practice austerity and meditation in solitude and silence, are freed from all impurity, and attain by the path of liberation to the Immortal, the truly existing, the changeless Self.” (Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.11) 
Dr. I. K. Taimni, in The Ultimate Reality and Realisation, says this: “It is only when the realisation of being a pure spirit or atma has been attained that it is possible to achieve the final goal of union of the atma with the Paramatma, the Supreme Spirit which exists eternally beyond the manifested universe and from which the manifested universe is derived. When this final realisation has been attained and union of atma with Paramatma has been brought about there is not only a complete sharing of consciousness between the two but also of the infinite Power which is inherent in the Universal Consciousness.…It is necessary to distinguish between the powers which are acquired on the realisation that he is a pure spirit or atma and those which are attained when he is able to destroy the last vestige of egoism and his consciousness becomes united with that of Paramatma. The former, though tremendous in some respects, are still limited, while the latter which are really the Powers of the Supreme Spirit are infinite and can manifest through the center of consciousness of a self-realised individual because there is fusion of the individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness and the channel between the two is open.” 

God is the guru of all 
Since God is eternal, it is from Him that all knowledge has come–especially the revelation of spiritual truth. As Vyasa observes: “His purpose is to give grace to living beings, by teaching knowledge and dharma [righteousness or religion].” “There is no other but God to give the teaching which is a boat by which they can cross over the sea of samsara, and He teaches knowledge and dharma to those who take sole refuge in Him.…For all the kinds of knowledge arise from Him, as sparks of fire from a blaze or drops of water from the sea,” says Shankara. Therefore Patanjali concludes: “Being unconditioned by time He is Guru even of the Ancients.
” Dwelling in the hearts of all, God continues to be the guru of questing souls. This does not mean that qualified spiritual teachers are not helpful to us, but ultimately the yogi must be guided by the Divine from within his own consciousness. Therefore the great poet-saint Tukaram wrote in one of his hymns: “The guru-disciple relationship is a sign of immaturity.” (Tukaram’s Teachings by S. R. Sharma, p. 20)
The fact that Shankara writes in the Nirvanashtakam: “I am neither guru nor disciple” (gururnaiwa shishya) shows that for realisation of the Self the guru-disciple relationship must be left behind and dissolve away. 

"Look to the Ocean, not to the little waves protruding on its bosom.” –Paramahansa Yogananda 

When Paramhansa Yogananda was questioned “about his own role in the religious evolution of this planet,” the great yogi replied: “The one Ocean has become all its waves. You should look to the Ocean, not to the little waves protruding on its bosom.” (Swami Kriyananda. The Path, p. 493.) Another time he objected strongly to the suggestion that only his writings should be read in the public services of Self-Realisation Fellowship, saying: “I came to make you God-conscious, not Yogananda-conscious.

” If an aspirant neither has nor desires an external guru he can still succeed in spiritual life. That this is so is proven by the fact that the twentieth-century Masters AkhandaMandaleshwer Sri Sri Swami Swarupananda Paramhansha Deva of Pupunki, Shirdi Sai Baba, Neem Karoli Baba, Paramhansa Nityananda, Aurobindo Ghosh, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, Swami Rama of Hardwar (Ram Kunj), Om Baba of Delhi, Swami Ramdas of Anandashram, and Ramana Maharshi attained enlightenment without the agency of an external guru. 

Ramana Maharshi particularly emphasised that God is the guru of all, saying: “Only the Supreme Self, which is ever shining in your heart as the reality, is the Sadguru [True Guru].” ( The Power of the Presence, p. 116)
The aspiring yogi can then feel safe and assured.    The supreme example of someone who attained enlightenment without a guru is Buddha, who is referred to in Buddhist texts as “Self-Awakened.” All spiritual life is self-initiated from within; we are both guru and disciple as Krishna and Arjuna symbolise in the Bhagavad Gita. 

Paramhansa Nityananda said: “He [God] is the One guru, the guru Who is in all, the guru of the universe. No [human] person can be your guru, a person can only be secondary. 

The real guru is Guru of the Universe.” (Chidakasha Gita 105)
To emphasise this, Nityananda never gave initiation or became a “guru” in any manner or sense, though he was inspirer, guide, and advisor to many. 
Neem Karoli Baba was wont to say, “I make devotees [of God], not disciples.” (Divine Reality, by Ravi Prakash Pande, p. ii.) 
Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh used to say: “I abhor gurudom”–the debasing of the student-teacher interaction to a personality cult. 
Swami Yatiswarananda, Vice-president of the Ramakrishna Mission, wrote to one of his students: “We really are not gurus. We bring the message of the Guru of gurus. What all service you can get from me you will. But please turn to Him for light and guidance, for peace and blessedness. As you yourself are finding, human beings are not good enough. The Lord, the Guru of gurus, alone can give us the shelter, the illumination and the bliss we need.” That sums it up very well. 
Another leading spiritual figure of the Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Premeshananda, once wrote: “We have presently become inundated by this ‘guru doctrine.’ The purpose of the guru is to lead us to the realisation of God; but God has been left behind, and the guru has become the latest fashion. So it is not safe to talk for God will be his guru, just as He has been for all the enlightened throughout the ages. 

OmIn conclusion let us look at the words of Sri Ramakrishna himself on the subject as found in the Majumdar translation of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna: “Satchidananda [Existence-Consciousness-Bliss] alone is the guru; He alone will teach.” (1.2.8; also: 4.2.1, 5.1.2, 5.5.1) “If somebody addresses me as a guru I say, ‘Away you rascal!’ How can I be a guru? There is no other guru except Satchidananda. There is no other refuge but Him. He alone is the ferryman who takes one across the ocean of relative existence.” (1.12.8) “A man cannot be a guru.” (2.19.6) “He who says of himself that he is a guru is a person of poor understanding.” (3.17.4) “The more you will advance, the more you will see that it is He who has become everything and it is He who is doing everything. He alone is the guru and He alone is the spiritual ideal of your choice. He alone is giving jnana, bhakti and everything.” (4.26.2) “Do you pray to Satchidananda Guru every morning? Do you?” (4.9.2)

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