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...Becoming A Ritual

Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2011 19:29:11 -0400
From: Pradiip Deva
Subject: ...Becoming A Ritual



Ours is the path of true spirituality, but, little by little, it seems that-- in some cases-- one of our dharmic practices is turning into a mere ritual.

As we know, our Guru sakash sadhana has a distinct method, so merely reciting the Guru sakash shloka, "Pratah sirasi...", over and over again is not going to bear any fruit. That is not the way to do Guru Sakash; yet unfortunately, some are succumbing to this ritualistic approach. And it was displayed in this dogmatic way in one of our AM movies as well.

So we should be vigilant.  Of course not everyone is doing it like this, but a few are-- and if we are not careful this will spread.


Falling into ritualism is not at all uncommon. This has happened to all the major religions. The Christians just recite their prayer 'Our Father who art in Heaven...', the Jews chant lines from the Torah, the Muslims just repeat their namaz; and the Hindus and Buddhists recite a few verses and then bow their head in front of an idol etc.

So the present day practice of all the religions are 100% ritualistic. Because that is the easy way to go. One can merely mechanically repeat the required lines and haphazardly pay salutations to their chosen deity, and voila, finished-- everything is done.

In such cases, there is little or no attempt towards realisation or enhancing the quality of mind; there is no dynamism. Just it is a static practice where in a few moments one recites their chosen verse.

It is so easy for undeveloped or common people to fall into such dogmas-- and they do not question it either. They get praised by their church or temple for participating in those external rituals and that is all. In His discourse, 'Ism and Human Progress', Baba vividly describes this phenomenon.


For Ananda Margiis things are different. We have a clear-cut spiritual ideal where rationality not ritualism guide us along. And so long as we adhere to AM teachings then we will remain true to the path of spirituality. That is why we should all deeply evaluate the way we practice Guru Sakash as well as how it should be practiced.


We must bear in mind that our Guru Sakash shloka, "Pratah sirasi...", is not like our Ista mantra. It is not meant to be repeated again and again. Rather, we are to merely follow what the mantra says to do.

"In the have to meditate on the Guru who is dvinetra [endowed with two eyes] and dvibhuja [endowed with two hands]. In what posture is this Guru endowed with two eyes and two hands? In vara'bhaya mudra [the gesture imparting fearlessness and bestowing grace]. He is your well-wisher and your benefactor. Whatever words you use mentally to address the Guru at the time of dhya'na or Guru dhya'na, should also be used at the time of this Guru dhya'na. You should always address the Guru for an extended period. This is Gurusaka'sha." (YP)

So in His above directive Baba gives us many instructions regarding Guru Sakash:
1) Practice in the morning upon waking;
2) Meditate on the Guru;
3) Visualise His form with two eyes and two hands;
4) See His varabhaya mudra;
5) Call Him using the dhyana mantra;
6) Practice for as long as possible.

Thus, the shloka about Guru Sakash contains several key points for adhering to the practice of Guru Sakash. And nowhere in that shloka does it say to repeat the shloka itself over and over again. That is not the practice of Guru Sakash. Rather we are to visualise Him in varabhaya mudra and then call Him using our dhyana mantra.


So if anyone is just reciting the Guru Sakash shloka over and over again-- but not following what the shloka says to do-- then they have merely fallen into ritualism. Of course most margiis are doing it properly but some have fallen into this ritualistic pattern of just reciting the shloka 5 or 6 times and then getting up and attending to natural call etc.

And tragically, the AM pracara movie, 'Kiirtan Mahima', projects this same dogmatic message. This film propagated this myth that repeating the shloka entails the whole of our Guru Sakash practice. So the error in this film needs to be addressed.



Hence in a very explicit manner, in the shloka, ' "Pra'tah shirasi...", Baba has graciously given us instructions how to do Guru Sakash. Certainly then, by reading this discourse, every Ananda Margii easily understands that Baba is outlining how to do Guru Sakash. The shloka describes how we are to perform Guru Sakash. But the shloka itself is not meant to be repeated at the time of Guru Sakasha. Rather in that shloka Baba directly states that at the time of Guru Sakash the aspirant should repeat His name.

"Remember Him by chanting His holy name"

By these instructions it is clear that Baba is guiding us that when we do Guru Sakash then we are to silently repeat His name. That is what we are supposed to do. And every sincere margiis does like that in Guru Sakash.

And here below Baba further clarifies the practice of Guru Sakash:

"Whatever words you use mentally to address the Guru at the time of dhya'na or Gurur dhya'na, should be used at the time of this Guru dhya'na, i.e. Guru Sakash."

By all this it is quite clear what one is to repeat when performing Guru Sakash: His name And it is also easily understood that the shloka itself

"Pra'tah shirasi..." is only the instruction how to perform Guru Sakash and it is NOT the mantra that one is to repeat when doing Guru Sakash. This crystal clear distinction everyone understands.


All in all repeating the "Pra'tah shirasi..." shloka at the time of Guru Sakash is just like if at the time of half-bath a person only reads the instructions about doing half bath from Caryacarya part II-- but never actually puts any water on his body.

That is if at the time of half-bath someone repeats:

'At first wash your genital organs...hands up to elbows...
then taking a mouthful of water, splash water on the eyes...
Finally wash the ears and neck.'

If someone just repeats these instructions for doing half-bath from Caryacarya part II like a mantra at the time of half bath and never actually goes near any water, then who can say that person in properly doing half-bath. We cannot say like that. Rather we would think that person is peculiar, if not inane.

Likewise at the time of Guru Sakash if one repeats again and again the directions "Pra'tah shirasi..." instead of doing the actual practice of repeating His name in Guru Sakash, then who is going to appreciate that. Nobody. Because we all know that the shloka is the instruction about Guru Sakash and it is not the practice itself. And if one is repeating the shloka than that means they cannot do the true practice of repeating Baba's name.

Here is another analogy.

In Caryacarya part III Baba gives all the instructions for doing asanas such as sarvaungasana (shoulder stand) etc. But if one sits down in a chair and starts repeating:

"Lie down on your back. Gradually raise the entire body and keep it straight, resting its weight on your shoulders. The chin must be in contact with the chest..." (CC-III)

If someone just repeats those asana instructions while sitting in a chair and does not actually perform those body movements, then how can we say that person has done sarvaungasana. How can we say that person is getting the benefit of asanas by just repeating the directions only without actually doing the asana. Indeed if we saw someone repeating those instructions without performing the actual asana would we not think that person is a little "hither and thither".

Similarly, if a brother is walking around repeating the instruction again and again, "Males should always wear a laungota", but that brother himself never actually does that thing, if he himself never puts on a laungota then who will conclude that person is following 16 Points. Never. Rather one will think that person is...

Same then is the case with Guru Sakash. Repeating the instructions "Pra'tah shirasi..." and never doing the practice has no value-- just it is a waste of time. And if someone writes in public that this is the way they do Guru Sakash then they show themselves as being more than a bit foolish also. Then they have exposed the fact in front of all that their Guru Sakash is a silly type. Their way is just like that brother repeating the laungota guidelines without ever actually tying a laungota around his waist.


So the only way is to follow the path of rationality and do Guru Sakash according to Baba's teachings. That means seeing Him in varabhaya mudra and then calling Him using our dhyana mantra.

And verily many margiis are doing it in this way and they are deriving huge benefit. Because when one feels His divine vibration in their Guru Sakash practice then that makes the entire day blissful. So we should be strict in Guru Sakash and maintain the practice for as long as possible. And if morning duty calls, then directly after we should again continue our Guru Sakash. One acarya told me about this and I have found it to be a big boon in my spiritual life, by Baba's grace.

So we should all take advantage of this wonderful practice of Guru Sakash and use our dhyana mantra to call Him again and again.

Of course, if one wishes, at the beginning one may repeat the Guru Sakash shloka one time, as that will remind oneself about what to do. But to go on repeating that shloka again and again thinking that is the main practice is  just ritualistic dogma-- nothing more.


By Baba's grace He has given us all the practices, including Guru Sakash, to lead a truly spiritual and dynamic life on this earth. By this way we may goad our minds to the culminating point of human existence-- life divine.

Baba says, "Now, there is a regulating point or pra'n'akendra for each of the innumerable nerve cells in the brain. Over and above these many pra'n'akendras or regulating points of the brain, there is one regulating point which controls the many pra'n'akendras. This point resembles, to some extent, the tip of a blade of kusha [a type of grass]. In this point is the Guru cakra. From this point human beings receive a thousand and one kinds of inspiration and propulsion. The humanity of human beings...depend on this point. In this point is ensconced the Guru, Parama Guru, Para'para Guru, Paramesti Guru. It is the loftiest point for the purposes of meditation and contemplation. It is at this point that the meditation on Guru has to be undertaken." (YP)



The other issue involved here is that our Guru sakash shloka is printed differently in our various scriptures. In Yoga Psychology (1994) it is printed one way; and in Shabda Cayanika (1990) it is printed a different way. In that case, if really we were just to recite the shloka when doing Guru Sakash, then which version of the shloka should one choose. That is another problem. And even worse, all the major religions have experienced huge feuds over such issues. If we fall prey to the ritualistic approach when "doing Guru sakash" then we are heading down the same road as those religions-- arguing over the validity of passages etc.

"Toma'ra tare malatii ga'ntha', toma'ra tare sura sa'dha'..." (PS #1218)


Baba, for You I have threaded a garland of malatii [1]; for You I have practiced many songs. Baba, to please You, I have made many flower decorations in anticipation of Your arrival. In longing for You, I have shed many tears, but You have not come. In this way, time is passing. 

Baba, whatever I have is due to Your grace. That which You do not want me to have, I do not have. Those things are not appropriate for me. That is why You did not give them to me. You do not have any bad intentions. Whatever You do and however You guide me - i.e. love, affection, rebuke, atonement, everything - is always for my welfare. That is why my heart dances in Your rhythm.

Baba, You have given me everything: Conscience, intellect, knowledge and intuition. Baba You are so gracious, You have raised my mind piercing the seven lokas. [2] Our relation is not new. Since long, life after life, Your unparalleled love has always been with me. It has always glorified my existence. Baba, You always shower Your grace on my being. You are the Liberator of all fear and doubt. Baba, by Your grace, I rush towards You, crushing all the obstacles.

Baba, I have prepared a garland for You, in the hope of Your arrival. O' Parama Purusa I want Your proximity. Please come to me...


[1] Malatii Flower: Native to India, Malatii is a big, woody climber which bears masses of fragrant, white, jasmine like flowers. In bloom it carries clusters of small five-petalled white flowers, which possess a spicy aroma. The white petals are pointed and twisted.

[2] Seven lokas: Here below Baba identifies the seven lokas or saptalokátmaka.

Baba says, "In the movement towards subtlety there are seven stages or lokas: bhu, bhuvah, svah, mahah, janah, tapah and satya" (AV-7, The Divine Drama)


Baba says, "In the subtle economic sense, the value of wealth is the real wealth. Wealth, if not properly defined, may mean only riches. But the value of wealth is to be measured in terms of its capacity to purchase commodities. That is, the purchasing capacity of wealth is its real value. This real value of wealth has not yet been properly understood in numerical terms by economists." (Proutist Economics, p. 269)

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