|April 28, 2000 |
A saadhana is a technique employed to gain something. A student, for example. struggles to achieve graduation. In the spiritual sense, a saadhaka or mumukshu (aspirant) is on the journey to attain God-realization. Saints of ancient India have given many techniques to walk on the path toward God. As they encountered failures, they continued to fight; but after each hurdle was crossed, another obstacle arose. The bhajan, "Saadhakanaa Jeevanano" explains that leaving aside struggles/self-effort, an aspirant should rely solely on the strength of God.
Swaminarayan Bhagwan commanded saints to do vicharana (visit towns to spread spirituality and righteous living). The saints were not to go into the town, but rather remain on the outskirts, loudly chanting and singing bhajanas (devotional songs). Since many people opposed the religion, there would be initial antagonism toward the saints. Swaminarayan Bhagwan however instructed the saints that as long as they faced insults and opposition, they should remain at that place. Witnessing the saints' devotion and experiencing peace, people's hearts would soon change. But, as soon as the saints were praised by the townspeople, Swaminarayan Bhagwan instructed that they should leave for another place. Further, during the vicharana, saints were not to carry any extra food, and were supposed to only eat that which they got from begging. Thus they would often face repeated fasting as well.
Once, seeing the condition of younger saints traveling in his group, Muktanand Swami wrote a letter to Swaminarayan Bhagwan asking if the saints could eat the green growth on top of ponds (algae)? In His response, Swaminarayan Bhagwan gave the story of three aspirants and a guru:
There was an aspirant who was in search of a guru. Once, when passing a town, he suddenly felt powerful vibrations, and thus followed his conviction into the town. While negative thoughts would usually bother him, he now found his worries going away. Upon inquiring, he found out that a powerful saint lived in the area. When he met the guru, the aspirant asked several questions, and was satisfied with all of his inquiries. The guru however told the aspirant that there was not enough room to accommodate him. The guru already had two disciples, and together, the three only got enough food from the town to eat once a day. The aspirant nevertheless wanted to remain with the guru. He thus requested to the guru that when the three of them were done eating, he would rinse the dishes and eat only whatever was left over. The guru commended the aspirant's strong resolution and allowed him to stay. After some time, another aspirant passing through the town experienced similar divinity by the guru, and thus also asked to stay. When the guru explained that they hardly have enough food for the four of them, the second aspirant said that he would sustain only on water. Finally, a third aspirant came by and also asked to stay. This time the guru explained that they neither had food nor water to share with him if he wanted to stay. The aspirant said that he would live only on air, and go without drinking water or eating!
Swaminarayan Bhagwan ended the letter by saying that if an aspirant had done this once before, we should show even more readiness today! Muktanand Swami understood Swaminarayan Bhagwan's message and asked all the saints to pray. Soon, people came and gave the group some food. Dinkar Uncle explained that similarly, we should realize that the only necessary support for existence is God, and only rely on prayer. Then, struggle ceases and the devotee leads a joyous, divine life.