Bhagawan Nityananda's Mahasamadhi shrine
Young Bhagawan Nityananda
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DISCIPLESHIP

Who Can Be a Disciple?

The Guru is the Grace-Bestowing power of God, that one who can give you Shaktipat and cause Kundalini Shakti to become completely active in you, and who can also guide your Sadhana and guide you through and the pitfalls of your own ignorance. Such a person is a Siddha and only such a person can be a Guru or Acharya.

Then there is the Disciple. The Disciple is a Student of Yoga. The Disciple is one who has a burning longing for God and one who has entered into a relationship with a Siddhacharya, with a Master, in order to be transformed by Grace. A Disciple is one who has made a 200% commitment to being a Student of learning. The Disciple is one who has agreed to be taught, who has agreed to be told what is necessary in any given moment for his/her own good, and who has agreed to follow the instruction of the Guru with complete Devotion and Surrender, and without barking out commands and retorts at the Guru. The Disciple is one who treats his/her Guru with complete reverence and total respect.

The Student of Yoga is one who has tested the Guru first and then, once satisfied that the Acharya is genuine, follows without questioning the command or instruction of the Acharya. The Disciple, a Student of Yoga, is the one who understands, agrees and accepts the fact that he/she will and must be tested by the Guru to become more aware of his/her own weaknesses and to learn to surrender the limitation of the ego. The Disciple is one who also understands that the Guru is a mirror, constantly reflecting the present state of the Disciple back to him/her. Only such a person can be a Disciple and only such a person can merge with Shiva Consciousness, with God.

On the path of Supreme Meditation, we are very concerned about how we are vibrating. Because you are, in truth, that very Chit Shakti, that very Vibration of Divine Consciousness that is above and beyond the senses, that is greater than the limitation of the ego, that is the cause and effect of this entire Universe, and that is completely pure and purposeless; because you are that Spanda Shakti, the way in which you reflect That Divinity in the world around you is extremely important to your own spiritual transformation and the destruction of your Karmas.

One of the main tenets of Supreme Meditation is Compassionate living. One who is a Student of Yoga, a Disciple of the Guru, must begin to practice Compassion. This means that you cultivate Compassion for others, while remembering to also be Compassionate with yourself. This Compassion is tested when you find yourself in relationships with people who behave in ways that you dislike or who behave in ways that are abusive to you and others. For many, due to past Karmas, these people include, not only associates, friends and coworkers; but such difficult people also include family members and other close relations.

Jesus Christ, the great sage of Christianity, said "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." He did not say "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, except if you don't like what they do and say to you, and only if they don't abuse you." He did not say that. He said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." He also said, "Love thine enemy as thyself." In Spanda Yoga Meditation we say, see everything and everyone as God, and as being worthy of your love for that reason alone.

So, the key to cultivating Compassion is twofold:
  1. First, you have to remember not to become like those whose behavior is dishonest, abusive, arrogant or ignorant. You don't want to reflect the weak behavior of others, or the behavior you dislike, by responding in kind. This is a mistake. The way you avoid becoming like them is to be ever mindful of how you are vibrating (by keeping your ego in check) so that, over time, you develop the ability to be Compassionate towards others, even when it means creating boundaries for your interactions with certain people, so that you can also remain Compassionate towards yourself. For example, you can love those who abuse you, even when it means that you cannot have extended physical contact with them.
  2. Second, you have to remember that You are the Creator. Whatever you experience in this life, whether painful or pleasurable, is a direct result of your Karma, your past actions which have created your present circumstances. If you have been abused, it is because you have abused, either in this life or a past life. What goes around does come back around. This is the inescapable Law of Karma. If you don't like your present circumstances, if you don't like the people who you continue to attract into your life, if you don't like the people you are surrounded by, then you need to change the way in which you are vibrating. This is what is known as Sacred Law. This is complete awareness of Spanda.

One of the first steps to becoming a Disciple on the spiritual path is to make peace with your own parents. When we say "make peace," we mean to be at peace with yourself first, and then to attempt to make and keep the peace with others. Some of us have parents who have abused us. Others have parents who are wonderful, loving, kind and nurturing. Still others have parents who are a combination of both. Our experience of our parents is due to our own Karma. We choose our parents. We choose the ones we are born through, based on our past Karma, our past way of thinking and behaving.

So, cultivate Love and Compassion for your parents, even if it means that you have to establish certain boundaries for relating with them, so that you can be Compassionate towards yourself also. This is very important to the process of becoming a Student of Yoga. Love those who brought you into this world. If you can't do that, how will you ever be able to follow the instruction of the Master?

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A Personal Sharing From Gopalkrishna Shenoy

The goal of life is to Love God, which means to Love yourself and all others as God. Life is a journey and GuruKripa Yoga (the path of the Guru) is a journey within the journey of life. This journey is undertaken by embracing and surrendering to the Guru or Acharya until we become one with Shiva. The goal of this journey is said to have been reached when the Jiva (the individual bound soul) transforms into Shiva (the Absolute or God) and Shiva becomes one with the Jiva. This is known as being set on your own path.

The first Acharya in life is your mother who bore you for nine months in her womb and brought you into this world. For this reason, She is called the first Guru. Without her grace this life is a waste. Mother gives the soul an opportunity to wash off its Karma and attain Liberation. Our obligation to her can never be repaid and we remain eternally grateful to our mothers, regardless of present interaction or lack thereof. Whenever possible, we should strive to keep our mothers happy and contented. Using the means available to us, we should look after her in her old age just as she has taken care of us when we were small babes. When we are compassionate towards our mothers, we gain spiritual merit. It is this spiritual merit (which is our own virtuous behavior) that makes us eligible for the Grace of the Guru, who leads us to the ultimate goal of all individual souls. That goal is Nityananda, the eternal Bliss of the Absolute. This spiritual merit, which is acquired, in part, through compassion towards your mother, is a must for a Guru to give Shaktipat Diksha (spiritual awakening) to a seeker.

Now. If you do not yet have this kind of spiritual merit, don't worry. You can begin to cultivate it by following the instruction in the previous section above marked "Who Can Be a Disciple?"

Sitaram

Sitaram Shenoy was my family and a householder devotee of Baba Nityananda. He was widely respected and was considered to be the exemplar of devotion. Swami Muktananda, Saligram Swami, Padiyar Swami (Sadananda of Kanhangad), Govind Swami, Tulsi Amma and other devotees of the order of monks held Sitaram Shenoy in high respect for his devotion to Bhagawan Nityananda.

Sitaram Shenoy
Sitaram Shenoy

Sitaram used to live in Mumbai along with his family. It was a close-knit Hindu family where the grandparents, parents, the uncles and aunts, children and cousins, and grandchildren lived under one roof. Such a vast gathering of relatives under one roof had its own advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages was that the ladies of the house never got along. And the relationship between mother and daughter-in-law was a tug-of-war for supremacy. As is common in this type of traditional living situation, Sitaram’s wife did not get along with his mother either. Now, both of these ladies were very head strong. One day, in a fit of anger, Sitaram’s mother left their Mumbai house and returned to her native town at Padbidri in South Karnataka state. Sitaram just could not have any say in the matter because his mother was very firm in her decision. His mother's hardheadedness, coupled with her move back to Padbidri, created a situation where Sitaram was no longer on good terms with his mother. They did not speak.

Now, it was Sitaram's long-standing desire to build a house close to where Baba Nityananda was living at the time. He wanted to be closer to his Guru. During those days, in the late 1940s, Bhagawan Nityananda used to stay at Vajreswari, about a kilometer away from Ganeshpuri. Baba used to sit opposite the Vajreswari Temple where there were Samadhi Shrines (tombs) of several saints. Two of these tombs were assigned by Baba Nityananda as those of Machendranath and Gorakshanath of the Natha lineage (Natha Sampradaya).

Followers of Nathsampradaya believe Shiva, in the form of Dattatreya, to be their Sadguru. They refer to Lord Shiva as Adinath. There were nine main Naths (Janma Siddhas) who manifested on this Earth as Avatars (born God-realized) to reinstate Dharma and to be Acharyas to those disciples seeking Moksha (Liberation). These Avatars were reincarnations of Lord Vishnu, Shiva's manifestation known as Narayana. Of these, Machendranath was the first Guru and Gorakshanath was second. It is also believed by some that Bhagawan Nityananda was the reincarnation of Machendranath.

So, Baba used to sit at this place. He built a small temple there, calling it Nath Mandir. Nath Mandir includes the Samadhi Shrines of both Machendranath and Gorakshanath. It is a very powerful place with very high spiritual vibrations. In fact even today, those who seek to have the direct experience of Spanda Shakti of Shiva are recommended to meditate in this Nath Mandir during early morning hours and early evenings. In fact, in the original book on Navnath (Nine naths) called Navnath Granth, there is mention of Machendranath meeting the Goddess Vajreshwari and she blessing him with various spiritual powers. According to Baba, in and around Nath Mandir, the manifestations of Vajradevi, known as Renuka and Kalika, along with their attendants, come for a stroll every evening. It is believed that they sit there to chat with Machendranath and Gorakshanath (it is strongly recommended that one should not venture inside the Nath Mandir after dark). The visit to this temple is a must for those who wish to follow the path of Navnath and for those who wish to perform Shakti Aradhanha, worship of Maha Spandana.

So, Bhagawan Nityananda recommended this place for Sitaram to build his house. Sitaram got the place on lease from the Trustees of Vajreswari temple. By then Baba had moved his ashram to Ganeshpuri. On taking possession of the place opposite the Vajreswari Temple (adjoining the Nath Mandir), Sitaram Shenoy decided to build a house and a motel with lodging and boarding for the devotees visiting Ganeshpuri. Sitaram visited Ganeshpuri to invite Baba for the Bhumipujan (ground breaking) ceremony of his house and motel. Baba was then living in the old Ganeshpuri ashram, then called Vaikuntha (where the present Samadhi Shrine of Bhagawan Nityananda is).

Before beginning construction, Sitaram went to see Baba. He prostrated himself in front of Baba and said, "Dear Deva. I have decided to construct my house and hotel, as per your recommendation, opposite the Vajreswari Temple. I have one desire. It is that you, as my Guru, should grace the ceremony of Bhoomipujan." To this Bhagawan Nityananda replied, "Go get your mother and ask her to grace the ceremony." Now, Sitaram was as stubborn as his mother. His ego would not allow him to surrender to his mother. So, he outright refused Baba's command. He looked upon Bhagawan Nityananda as his rightful mother and often took liberty to argue with and counter Baba's commands to him. He just said, "You are my God, my Mother, my Guru and my everything. None other than you can grace this great event in my life."

Baba would not budge. Baba said, "Only your mother should be given this honor." To this Sitaram challenged "I will not go and surrender to my mother. If you do not accept my invitation to grace this ceremony, I shall still hold it. By keeping your photographs at the ceremony and offering my respect to you alone, I shall build this house." Sitaram then left Ganeshpuri in huff.

Here one should understand the relationship between Bhagawan Nityananda and Sitaram Shenoy. Sitaram's love for Baba was so strong that he felt he could venture enough courage to challenge Baba. He considered Baba to be his everything in his life and nothing else mattered to him. In truth, like Namadeva, Sitaram thought that, with Bhagawan Nityananda on his side, he was above everything and everyone else. His ego was out of control. Now, between the two, Baba had even more love for Sitaram than Sitaram knew. This is the reason Baba tolerated Sitaram's outbursts and retorts. Baba really wanted Sitaram to go beyond the limitation of his ego. He also wanted to cure the lose of spiritual merit created by Sitaram's obstinance towards him. He also wanted to reverse the Karma created by the riff between Sitaram and his mother. Now, Baba knew that there was an important lesson on the way for Sitaram.

The next day, Sitaram called a priest and, keeping Baba’s photograph where it was visible, offered his prayers to Baba and began the groundbreaking ceremony. On completion of the Puja, the workers began building. The buildings were constructed of large stones. The following morning, there was commotion outside Sitaram's room. He rushed to the construction site, only to find that the walls built the day before had collapsed. His engineers were perplexed. He made them build it again. Again, on the following morning, the walls had collapsed. This happened for three consecutive days. Sitaram finally understood his folly.

He went straight to Ganeshpuri and fell at the feet of Bhagawan Nityananda. Baba was laughing. Baba said, "Now that you have started the construction work, go and build your house. For the housewarming (Graha pravesh), invite your mother with great respect and honor. Bring her to your house, wash her feet with water, offer her a new sari (dress) and, with her blessing and well-wishes, start your life in your new home." Realizing how important it is to follow the command of the Master without resistance, Sitaram went back and did as Baba instructed him to do.

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Whole And Complete

For all those who have boarded on this journey to Liberation, the first and foremost prerequisite for this journey is to be whole and complete with everything. If you carefully observe and look at each of Bhagawan Nityananda's photographs, you will find that he is perfectly at ease and complete. No two photographs taken on the same day are identical. This is because He is always whole and complete with the Universe at any given moment and therefore dynamic rather than static. He is not attached to the previous moment nor is there is any expectation of the coming moment. He is whole and complete for each and every moment. This is the secret of every great MahaAvatar, of every great Saint and Siddha.

To be whole and complete is an art. One begins the practice of this art with what is close to one’s being, until one encompasses the entire Universe. Then one becomes a Siddha (perfected being). How could the Rishis (sages) of the past translate the effects of various stars and planets on the destinies of men/women and kingdoms? They could accurately predict the events that were to happen, years before the actual event occurred. The Rishis were tuned in to the entire Universe, to the eternal sound AUM that encompasses the entire Universe.

We can be whole and complete only when we are at ease with the people, places and things around us. If we do not love the creation how can we ever love the Creator? If you cannot be at peace with His creation how can you be at peace within. You have to be present to yourself if you want to be present to the Universal Self. If you can be whole and complete with your mother then you can be whole and complete with your Guru, your Acharya. Mother, when she is whole and complete, is one who loves you for love's sake alone. And it is the same with the Acharya. They have no hidden agenda in moving you to your ultimate transformation. They do it for Love and there is nothing to bargain for in return.

If we are disturbed how can we be at peace? So we have to be whole and complete with everything. This begins with our parents, our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors, and our society. Even if your loved ones are no longer with you, even if they have passed on, you can still be whole and complete with them. Sincerely forgive everyone who has hurt you. Thank everyone who has brought joy to your life. Pray for the welfare and safety of those who are in trouble, even for those who have died before doing right by you. This will make you whole and complete with them. If you can contact them in your prayers, tell them what you feel, forgive them and tell them that you are whole and complete with them; that you have nothing to hold against them.

Bhagawan Nityananda used to say, "People are not bad, it is the circumstances which are bad." First enjoy the "sunset" at the place that you are. And then you will be able enjoy the sunset anywhere in the world. How many of us come back with some miserable feeling from a so called wonderful holiday? If you have joy within, then you will experience joy, mo matter where you are. This is what is called Ananda. It is Chidananda. It is Chidvilasananda. It is Nityananda.

Next, we will speak of Namasankirtan, the repetition of the Divine name.

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Photo Credit: M.D. Suvarna.

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