Archive for the ‘Chapter 12’ Category

247/12:Where Are Saints?

December 28, 2006

Summary: We all agree that doing self-less service to saints greatly helps us in attaining God realization. However, most of us do not see a sufficiently qualified saint in this age to whom we can offer our heartfelt service. This lacuna of holy souls exists because of our unrealistic definition of a saint. If we are more reasonable in defining a saint as `a person who genuinely helps us in our path of spirituality’, then the possibility of having a saint in our midst increases dramatically. With this new definition comes the restriction of redefining what service means and also honestly admitting all the helpful events as saints in our life. Even though the same events may not be classified as saints by our dear ones.

Verse 247: Dnyandev Mhane TumhI, Sant VolagavetI AmhI, He Padhavilo Ji AmhI, Shree Nivruttidevi.

Translation: Dnyandev says that the only thing taught by (my guru) Shree Nivruttinath is to offer heartfelt service to great souls like you.

The twelfth chapter of Geeta describes Bhakti-yoga. The path of God devotion. At the end of this chapter, the last verse is the one stated above. Let us think about it in some detail…

The moment we embark on spiritual path, we realise the importance of `sat-sang’ the effectiveness of the company of holy people. People who have tread the spiritual path before us and can guide us on our way. Therefore, when Dnyaneshwar maharaj talks about importance of doing self-less service to holy people, we are not surprised and can accept his statement on faith. However, there is a caveat attached to it. There always is! In this case, the effectiveness of this statement in our life depends on finding holy people in our life. Who are they and where are they? A moments’ thought would be enough to convince us that in our daily life, it is impossible to find a person who, according to our criterion, qualifies as saint. If there is no such person, how can we offer our services to him/her? Therefore we are stuck right at the beginning. Does this mean that in this age, in our life this path is no more available to us?

Wait. Think again. Maybe the reason why we don’t find a saint in our life is our expectations from a saint are unrealistic. We would have to examine our expectations of a saint and check if they are reasonable. Most of us have some kind of perfection in behaviour in mind when we think of a saint. Those who value moral behaviour would like to see its idealized form in their definition of a saint. Those who value Guru-Bhakti would see its pinnacle in the behaviour of their saints. Some of us would like our saints to renounce everything from this world and would want him/her live a life of a true mendicant. The bottom line in all this is following: we want an idealized person as a saint. It is impossible for most of us to get convinced of someone’s saintliness when they see faults in his/her behaviour. Is this the right expectation? If we look at the history, there is no saint who lives up to this expectation. Ramakrishna Paramhans used to get very fidgety when someone with high social standing is coming to meet him. Of course, this uneasiness used to last till that person actually arrives. Thereafter Ramakrishna Paramhans used to be in a different plane and give the correct advice to the person concerned. However the fact remains that initially he was worried. How can a saint be worried? Gondavalekar Maharaj actually fought lawsuits with his relatives over piece of property and Nisargadatta Maharaj used to sell cigarettes as a mode of making his ends meet. Do any of these examples meet your expectations? But these people are undoubtedly saints. Therefore, we need to have a different criterion for judging the saintliness of someone. May be with this new criterion we can find people around us to whom we can offer our sincere service.

In the above verse itself is hint given by Dnyaneshwar Maharaj about his definition of a saint. He is saying `great souls like you’. This means that all the listeners of his discourse are saints for him. How is it? Actually, it is the audience that defines the speaker. A speaker is only as good as his/her audience. Because the key to appreciating a talk lies with the listener! Speaker cannot say on his own that I gave a good talk unless audience has told him so. Therefore, it is the greatness of the audience that is spurring the speaker in Dnyaneshwar Maharaj on. It is this capacity of the listener that is saintly for Dnyaneshwar. This means that our definition of a saint should be following:

Anyone who inspires us to go on in our path towards God realization is a saint in our life.

In this definition, being a saint is fluid state. The person because of whom you thought about God yesterday need not inspire similar thoughts in you today. So today you should be ready to dethrone him/her from sainthood. Saintliness becomes a concept rather than its embodiment in a human being. This concept can come in your life in any form. For example, a passing persons facial expression can prompt you into a deep thought. A child’s behaviour can force you into looking at one’s priorities etc. In these instances, the person passing by and the child became saints as far as you are concerned.

Of course, when you change your definition of the saint, your definition of self-less service to them should also be changed. Earlier, by self-less service you might have in mind the physical service. Now, you really can’t do such a thing to a stranger or a child do you? Therefore, now your honest behaviour according to the lesson you have learnt because of these `saints’ is the new definition of self-less service in our life. There comes a sudden insight in a given situation due to the presence of someone. Having the courage to behave in accordance to this newfound understanding is the real service to the saints in your life. This is your sadhana!

Another consequence of this new definition of who is saint (apart from changing the definition of service to saints) is the constant awareness required to identify a saint in our life. The moment we stop looking for an idealized version of some behaviour in a saint, each and everyone in this world has a potential of becoming a saint for you. In a given situation the same person can be a saint for someone and a sinner for other. All these possibilities are thrown open by this definition of ours. Therefore, in our life, we must remain on a constant lookout for appearance of a saint. This awareness about what is happening around us at this instant is an important consequence of this new attitude of ours. We start looking at each and everything around us with a new light. We interact in this world not to judge but to see if a given situation has helped us in our spiritual path or not. This point of view of looking at things frees us from pre-judging a person or an event and frees us to interact with a clean slate. Therefore, the real meaning of this verse will be understood by those lucky souls who can implement these two consequences of this new definition in their life.