The Voice of a saint is a means of liberation. The voice of a saint is a destroyer of sins. The voice of a saint is a supporter of the orphans. One would know this feeling while resting in the shelter of the divine feet of Swami Vishnu Tirthji Maharaj, now one with God.
Not only was Shri Guru Maharaj a great preceptor of Shaktipat and fully capable of Changing the flow of life of an aspirant, but the nectar of his instructions was also unparalleled. His voice had power, logic, love, friendship, attraction, the finer aspects of spirituality and the extract of life. His heart was filled to the brim with a feeling of public welfare. His heart would speak through the medium of his words. In his heart were hidden the experiences of sadhana and the unfathomable knowledge of the scriptures. His heart had the divine brilliance of spirituality. Shri Guru Maharaji was a tender-hearted saint with a sharp intellect and a disciplined mind. He was the master of a pure self. He was a lord of the mind. His life was extremely simple, devoid of any trickery of slyness, full of spirituality and love.
Churning of the Heart is a book based on his teachings. Every sentence of Shri Guru Maharaj penetrates deep into the heart and compels the listener to churn his own heart. He would express his profound thoughts on the subtle aspects of sadhan and human life through minor events. The personality of ancient sages shone in his life. Love flowed through the medium of his eyes and a fountain of knowledge flowed through his speech.
Swami ShivomTirth was born in 1924, in a village in Punjab, with the name Om Prakash. He pursued university studies in Lahore, but was compelled by the partition of India to return to Punjab with his family. There, as a householder, he aspired to an ideal way of life, devoted to the pursuit of higher objectives. After coming to know about the spiritual attainments of Swami Vishnu Tirthji Maharaj, he sought permission to join him. He bid farewell to his family and was initiated in 1959.
Swami Vishnu Tirthji arranged for his disciple to be in the company of many distinguished spiritual personalities and to visit important religious centers. After receiving initiation into the order of renunciation (Sanyas), which he took in 1965, he was given the name of Swami Shivom Tirth. Swami Vishnu Tirthji afterwards authorized Swami Shivom Tirth to succeed him and propagate the system of Shaktipat for the welfare of all people. Since then, Swami Shivom Tirth has traveled to many countries of the world, including the United States. His works published in English are: A Guide to Shaktipat, Rays of Ancient Wisdom, Trek of Spirituality, A Guide to Meditation and three volume Churning of the Heart.
The three-volume series, Hriday Manthan, was originally written in Hindi and thus its distribution has been restricted to readers of that language. Hindi readers have appreciated the trilogy greatly. Sadhana Books in Berkeley, California, USA, has accepted the responsibility of bringing the English translation of this series to readers under the title Churning of the Heart, for which I am grateful. I hope the English-reading audience will welcome this trilogy with the same enthusiasm and sentiment as the Hindi audience.
The three-part series is a compilation of the instructional speeches and spiritual activities of Swami Vishnu Tirth Maharaj, and the story of a disciple with a defective inner-self. On the one hand, the aspirant is troubled with the desire-filled nature of his heart; on the other, he draws inspiration from the compassionate words and actual incidents and experiences of Maharajshri. The heart of the disciple lies in between and, churned with the rod of instruction and sadhana. keeps rising and falling. The above-mentioned state of contemplation, or churning of the heart, is imperative for every novice sadhak. The series is a presentation of this state.
I hope the English reading audience will like this series and be inspired to churn their hearts through these sermons.
I came to Narayan Kuti, in the town of Dewas, in September 1959. At that time Gurudev Swami Vishnu Tirthji Maharaj, now merged with the divine, had gone to Nepal. He returned at the end of November. In January 1961, he initiated me into bramhacharya. As a result, this book has been written with a focus on 1960.
Forty-year-old memories tend to become quite blurred, hence whatever surfaced on the stage of my heart has been compiled here. Maharajshri was a great man who had achieved freedom from attachments. Each and every word uttered by him was like the active form of Goddess Amba. He spoke with his heart and not with his- mind or intellect. His speech was always filled with a desire for public welfare.
After such a long interval it is impossible to remember his 'exact words. Some I have been able to remember. In the case of others I have attempted to capture their essence in these writings to the best of my abilities. When Maharajshri spoke it was as if the words were blossoming in his heart and manifesting through his voice. It is not an easy task to capture in writing the voice of the heart after a gap of forty years. It is only by the grace of Maharajshri that I have been able to attempt this.
The sermons of Maharajshri in this book are basically the churning of my heart. The voice of Maharajshri compels the listener to churn his heart. On listening to Maharajshri's voice. I also was given an opportunity to peer inside my mind and see my faults. His speech had clarity and a feeling for public welfare at the, same time, thus each and every word of his would touch the heart. I had very little opportunity to benefit from his sermons that took place in I960. First and foremost I was unable to attend, and if I attended one, I would carry such a huge burden of ashram duties with me that I could not concentrate on the sermon. But I enjoyed his early morning walk conversations greatly. At that time I was the only person with Maharajshri, and he would also be in a more relaxed state of mind. As a result the spiritual discussions were very good and intense. This book is comprised mainly of Maharajshri's morning walk discourses.
Churning of the Heart has only two characters, Maharajshri and I. But this does not imply that there were no other important persons in the ashram at that time. Before me there were many people worthy of his grace who held important positions in the ashram. As far as initiation was concerned, I was a novice. In fact, not withstanding the grace Maharajshri showered on me, I was only a servant who was of no special importance to other people in the ashram. It was merely by chance that I was assigned the task of accompanying Maharajshri on his morning walks and thus had the opportunity to be in his company. I am writing this book on the basis of those conversations.
In reality this book is the churning of my heart - an opportunity to look within myself in the light of Maharajshri's nectar-filled words. I have written this book more for myself and less for others. The greatest advantage of writing this book was that, even after forty years, just the recollection of the times I spent with Maharajshri create a perennial feeling of being in front of him. Sometimes showering love, scolding at times or explaining something, sometimes serious and on other occasions laughing - in some form or the other he always remained in front of my eyes.
I have a strong desire to document all the memories of my association with Maharajshri. The first book about the memories of I960 is already in your hands. In the second book I have compiled the memories from that point up until my Sanyas Diksha, my initiation into the life of a renunciate, which took place in 1965, along with the discourses and events of that time. The third volume will cover the events from that date until Maharajshri's union with the infinite in 1969. I am already seventy-six years old. Only Gurudev knows if I will ever complete this work of mine, considering my weak constitution and fading eyesight.
From my conversations with Maharajshri and his company. I became aware of the many difficulties on the path of spirituality and the need to develop a generous and tolerant mind. Swami Gangadhar Tirth Maharaj had made the task easy with the discovery of Shaktipat. But the easy part is restricted only to the awakening of the Shakti. The road ahead is still very arduous. In fact, it becomes more difficult because of the activity of the Shakti. The samskaras, the accumulated seeds of past actions, begin to emerge on the surface of the mind rapidly, thus the emotions and vibrations of the mind take root inside very quickly. The state of mind fluctuates rapidly. The rate at which destiny bears fruit increases at an intense pace. The spiritual aspirant must face the effect of these internal changes in the outside world.
The first difficulty before the spiritual aspirant is that of moving away from the material world. Not only is the world visible outside; it is also present inside in the form of desires arising out of accumulated impressions. We can refer to this as our internal world. Apart from making the being happy and sad, the external world strengthens the internal world. In reality, it is the internal world which makes the mind unstable, gives rise to desire-patterns, and hence is the cause of happiness and sorrow in the external world; it is the internal world, which extends out- side. It is so deeply rooted inside in the form of accumulated seeds of one's past actions that it has no desire to leave.
Churning of the Heart is Swami Shivom Tirth Maharaj’s personal account of his ten-year association with Swami Vishnu Tirth Maharaj. Memories of Maharajshri, the second of three volumes, is a compilation of memories from the period of the young disciple’s taking of monastic vows in 1961, until his initiation into the life of a renunciate in 1965.
As Swami Shivom Tirth writes, “The thoughts and sentiments described in this book are only Maharajshri’s. I am only a messenger. I have tried to remain a messenger and not to add anything from my side to the teachings, except when there is a description of natural beauty and the churning of my own heart.
“The sermons of Gurudev Swami Vishnu Tirth Maharaj, delivered in silence or through speech, directly touched the depth of one’s heart. In the sphere of Shaktipat, the power of his resolve would penetrate deep within. A spoken instruction would percolate down to the mind through the medium of the ear. This was possible simply because it came from the bottom of his heart, had been established through direct experience, and was confirmed by Shakti. The foundation of serious analysis and self-introspection, and the feeling of universal welfare, were inherent in it. It overflowed with the sweetness of scripture and the voices of great saints.
“Each and every word of his sermons was a manifestation of his serious thought, contemplation of scripture and the subtleties of spiritual practice. The power of his contemplation would force the listener to churn his own heart. One who does not contemplate the inner Self in a serious manner cannot progress further on the path of spirituality. This book is like a beacon for the spiritual aspirant.”
The memory of Maharajshri is like a fragrant garden of flowers filled with fresh floral perfume. joy and cool breeze. Every dew drop in this garden is shimmering with light. Every flower, branch and leaf is vibrant proof of the workings of chetana [consciousness]. It is pulsating with the intoxication of sadhan, tenderness of the heart, waves of emotion, and soaring experiences of spiritual knowledge in the inner sky. His style of presentation had a remarkably supernatural quality. The language was beautiful, easy and delightful to hear. The concepts were supported by personal experiences, appropriate references to context, and corroborated with examples from the scriptures. Each and every word of his directly struck the heart of the listener. The methods were appropriate to the level of a sadhak [disciple] - the listener. Display of scholarship was never the purpose of his speech.
His heart was so generous that followers of every caste, religion and spiritual practice used to find a place in it. He did not see any path, principle or way of worship moving in the opposite direction from God. The whole world is a child of God. To find his Supreme Father an aspirant can take any path. All have the same ardent desire; He alone is everybody's goal. The emotion, faith and belief of each aspirant can be different. Diversity is this world. The day all ideologies become one there will be no world.
It was his opinion that the awakening of Shakti [energy] is a river that must be crossed to advance on the spiritual journey. There may be different expressions for this awakening of Shakti, but all have accepted it in one form or another. In this the country, path, sect or principles do not matter. Spirituality is much higher than sects. No devout follower of any sect is closer to God than a spiritual person. In spirituality, all sects cease to exist.
Part One of Hriday Manthan was welcomed with such enthusiasm and feeling that a second edition had to be printed within four or five months. Meanwhile there were demands from readers that the author give details about himself Some even said there should have been more description of the states of other aspirants. The only response I would like to give readers is that this is not my autobiography. The only purpose of this has been to bring to light the personality of Maharajshri and to compile and publish his teachings. It was not for me to look at the states-of-mind of other disciples. Yes, here and there observations are made about the group mentality of the aspirant community. If some- one is discussed in the context of some incident, his or her name is not mentioned. To illustrate the impact of Maharajshri's teachings on disciples, I have been the representative of all the disciples. It is, in fact, very difficult to understand the inner state and dilemmas in the mind of someone else, and if someone else had been discussed they might feel bad. This could cause unnecessary complications. It is not within the capacity of a common person to fathom the depth of the words of great beings. However, due to his ego, everyone believes that he has understood everything.
The thoughts and sentiments described in this book are only Maharajshri's. I am only a messenger. I have tried to remain a messenger and not to add anything from my side to the teachings, except when there is a description of natural beauty and the churning of my own heart. Along with me, my style of expression has also borne the responsibility of being only a messenger. It has only done the job of bringing the thoughts and sentiments of Maharajshri to readers.
Just as in Part One, in this second part there are only two characters, Maharajshri and myself If ever the name of another is mentioned, it is only of someone who is not with us now. The only exception to this is Shri Narayan Tirthji Maharaj - it would have been improper not to mention his name. I understand that readers will appreciate my feelings and respect that.
Hardly anyone knew that Maharajshri had contact with many invisible, great beings because Maharajshri never talked about it to anyone. Only a few knew something about Agasha. If Maharajshri had not talked to me about it I also would not have known anything. Maharajshri instructed me to not talk about it during his lifetime. I followed Maharajshri's instructions fully, and not only during his lifetime, but also during my own, I have not spoken to anyone about this until now. Now, when I see the evening of my life, I have the good fortune to compile the teachings of Maharajshri. I could not resist the temptation to unveil this part of Maharajshri's life.
Maharajshri never praised his siddhis [spiritual powers] with his own voice. Although the spiritual height of a great being cannot be measured by his siddhis, many talk about his miracles. For instance, when he was in Rishikesh and Shri Yoganand Vijnaniji Maharaj, his Guru, was living in Swargashram, Maharajshri crossed the Ganges River walking on the water while having an upsurge of Shakti. When I tried to discuss this with Maharajshri he just smiled. Therefore I cannot say whether it is true or false. Even if Guru Maharaj had siddhis, he never exhibited them.
Maharajshri never propagated his experiences during sadhan. If he had to explain something to someone regarding sadhan, he would always explain it on the basis of scriptures. In his books also, he never referred to his own sadhan. He used to say that experiences in sadhan were not for publicity. By doing that ego can arise in the mind, which is an obstacle in spiritual progress. I have written a book on Maharajshri, entitled Sadhan Diary, which is based on the diary kept by Maharajshri, and which was somehow preserved. I did know about the diary for quite some time, and the book was written only after he had merged with Brarnha [cosmic consciousness ].
I have never seen so modest a personality as his, in spite of his enfolding such a vast treasure of knowledge and experiences within: simple like a child, affectionate like a devotee, disciplined like a yogi, and even-minded like a jnani [a person of spiritual knowledge]; always adorned with simplicity, always absorbed in devotion, always under the rein of self-control, and always balanced with equanimity.
The Churning of the Heart trilogy, of which this is the third and final volume, is a factual account of the true inner state of a spiritual aspirant in whom one finds, on the none hand, an attraction to and invitation from the world, and on the other, a yearing due to separation from the Lord and a mind filled with discontent. Under these circumstances, the powerful, inspirational and princeless words of Swami Vishnu Tirth Maharaj, now one with the Absolute, and his accounts of spiritually elevating experiences, shine like a pillar of light. The aspirant finds the path of his own spiritual journey, which he had lost and forgotten, clearly illuminated by its glow. The absurdity of the world becomes clear, the awareness of what is duty and what is not blossoms, and the aspirant marches forward on his spiritual path.
The series Churning of the Heart is neither a biography of Gurudev Swami Vishnu Tirth Maharaj, now merged with the divine, nor is it my autobiography. Even though twelve years of Maharajshri's life are the foundation for these books, stress has been laid on the knowledge he imparted, on related events, and on his divine narratives, which are instrumental in inspiring one towards sadhan. How all this affects the mind of a sadhak, how he is forced to churn his heart, is presented here.
Most importantly, these three volumes have been written with the intent of churning the heart. Generally a sadhak performs some sadhan, acquires some knowledge of the scriptures, and is filled with pride. In that case, he is not yet a sadhak. A sadhak never feels proud about his sadhan, his qualities or his high spiritual state. If someone has pride, understand that he is not a sadhak. It is necessary for an aspirant to churn his heart every day while performing the service of sadhan. All three volumes of Churning 0/ the Heart inspire the sadhak in that direction.
One more trait (hat has been observed in sadhaks is that they are very eager to achieve the fruit of their sadhan. All three volumes repeatedly stress the fact that the path of spirituality is neither easy, nor short. In order to get rid of a tiny samskara, even a superior sadhak like Maharajshri had to take many births, over nine thousand years. Once a samskara takes root inside, every action performed under its influence strengthens it. It is very easy to assimilate, but it is an extremely difficult task to remove a samskara from the chitta. Thus the scriptures have given patience and courage very important roles for the sadhak,
It is an astounding fact that, since the beginning of creation, in order to fulfill his desires, man has been spending all his energy inclined toward the world. Even prior to that, no one knows through how many universes he has been trying to achieve this. but neither have his desires been satiated, nor has he experienced happiness in the world. Still he is incapable of understanding the world's sly and illusory nature. He continues to walk further in this samsara [worldly illusion] and becomes more and more entangled ill it. His physical form and his mind keep him totally engaged in the world. This world is like a dark and deep cave, and finding a way out of it is as impossible as plucking stars from the heavens. Occasionally, for a brief span of time, there is a perception that harmonious tendencies and inner light arc raising him up, but negative tendencies and darkness overcome him once again and drag him into the bottomless abyss of illusions.
The life of Maharajshri is like a blazing sun whose only goal is to encourage the jiva [living being] to guide his mind and senses in the right direction. Its goal is to show the way to the masses. No Ice is required for this, not even a few words of gratitude. If a waylaid traveler finds the right path, this, in itself is a reward.
Maharajshri was a living embodiment of love. Attachments and aversions had no place in his life. There was absolutely no trace of jealousy or hatred in his chitta. Fault-finding and criticizing never appeared in the path of his life. Such a clean, pure and sacred life was an ideal for the masses. But what can be said about the world? It wants to shut its doors when the sun shines, fearing that the light will enter inside. First and foremost, it does not see goodness because evil dwells in its eyes. Even if it manages to see goodness, it turns its back. Maharajshri’s observation that the population of Dewas is around twelve to fourteen thousand, but hardly fifty people visit the ashram regularly, suffices to illustrate the nature of this world.
Generally, an individual being is incapable of determining the purpose of his life. His goal is one thing, but he remains involved in some-thing totally different. He considers insignificant things to be of importance. He imagines relationships with others when there is no relation- ship whatsoever. In this way he continues to fill his chitta with darkness. The goal is very close, but remains invisible to him. The greatest mockery is that, throughout his entire life, a man does not realize that he is living in darkness. His hands carry the torch of pride while his eyes wear the goggles of misperception. "Turning its focus from within toward the world, his mind continues to run on paths that are full of delusion. How will he identify the true path?
Not only had Maharajshri found the way; he also ran on this path at full speed. But on the path of every aspirant, falling down and rising lip arc natural occurrences. Is there any aspirant who has not fallen often? Still people forget their own fall and rejoice at someone else's. If someone does not stumble, then he is forced to do so, or people imagine that he has. Maharajshri was fully aware of this attitude of the world. He had very peacefully transformed his fall into sadhan. While living in this world he always remained disinterested in it. He successfully con- fronted the onslaughts of his mind. He had stepped down a little from an extremely high stare of sadhan to come into this world, and after the completion of his task he returned to the same state. He never involved himself in unnecessary restrictions of the world. His only message to people who were deeply troubled with the illusory nature of this world was that, if you wish to rise above this world and progress further on this rarely traveled path of spirituality, then follow me. The world will repeatedly step in your way to block your path, but keep pushing it aside and continue to progress further toward your final destination.
It is not known how long Maharajshri had been walking the spiritual path. Neither the world, nor we ourselves, can comprehend our inner states. Having taken birth in the present, we wander in the present. We are neither aware of the past, nor do we have knowledge of the future. The world is like a tree under which a traveler stops to relax for a while. A traveler at least sees the paths ahead and behind, but we are travelers who, other than our present lives, see only darkness. Even the present is not seen as it truly is. Maharajshri, however, had knowledge of the past and future, as well as of the present. He knew his goal and the way to attain it.
It was the first week of January 1966. Most of the visitors had left the ashram. Swami Narayan Tirthji Maharaj had returned to Kashi. Most of the people who stayed behind were residents of the ashram. As it was winter, I was sitting outside, basking in the sunlight. When a person is alone, a flow of thoughts begins to rise in his mind to keep him company. As I sat there, I was thinking that, although I had certainly taken sanyas [vows of renunciation], my state of mind was the same as before. The same samskaras [accumulated impressions], the same propensities and wishes. By accepting the danda [bamboo staff], I had adopted outwardly the form of Narayan [Lord Vishnu], but the demon dancing within was still very strong.
A quote from Kabir repeatedly came to mind. "You have not colored the mind. You have only colored the clothes you wear like those of a renunciate." I, too, had simply dyed my clothes. The mind still had to be colored. Saffron dye was available in the market to color cloth, but where could I get a saffron dye that could color the mind. My mind was covered in black folds of pride, for which the comment, "No other color can be applied," was perfectly fitting. The possibility of coloring the mind arises when the black cover of pride is taken off; only then will the color stay.
No one can peek into the mind of another and see within. People only notice the physical form - adorned in saffron clothes, bearing the danda, the holy ashes smeared on the forehead. Some people bowed to me as a formality, while others bowed with reverence. Still, I had to bless everyone. If someone did not bow to me, Maharajshri would say, "You haven't bowed to Swamiji ? Do so." My mind was in a great conflict. I cannot comment on those who give blessings out of pride, but my own blessings were given drenched in embarrassment and dejection. My existing state of mind would confront me. When I blessed someone by saying, "Narayan," my mental state would show in my face and I would lower my head.
I continued to sink deeper into thought. This was the exact nature of the problem I had presented to Maharajshri, and now that split personality had manifested itself before me: an extremely polluted mind within, but externally a man of great wisdom, Whenever someone asked me a question, I answered it with authority. I externally there was detachment. But internally there was attachment, pride, anger, and who knows what else! I was forced to carry this burden of a split personality. There is only one way to be free of it: purification of the mind. But this is not an easy task.
Flowers were blooming all around the ashram. Natural splendor and beauty were in their youth in all four directions, yet my mind felt listless. I saw my entire conduct contrary to that of a spiritual aspirant. The saints and scriptures all beckon us, and even Maharajshri explained that words and actions must be identical. Yet my mind thought one thing as I explained things differently to others. I expected a salutation from every visitor. My pride reflected in everything I said. I was getting angry more frequently than in the past. My pride in sanyas was, perhaps, the cause,
I had an invitation to someone's home the next day. On the one hand, I would feel embarrassed letting people bow in front of me. On the other hand, the desire that people should bow to me was becoming stronger. I would feel extremely elated when relatives and neighbors bowed to me. Was this renunciation? Had I sacrificed my home to earn this? Are these the characteristics of a spiritual aspirant? Definitely not. Be he a renunciate or a householder, a spiritual aspirant must be humble and free from pride. On the contrary, I had apparently gathered within me the pride of the entire world. A living embodiment of pride.
I did not realize how much time had passed in these thoughts. Suddenly I thought of Maharajshri, got up and ran toward his cottage. Upon reaching it I noticed that Maharajshri had arisen after resting for a while and was seared on his woolen mat. When he saw me he asked where I had been. I told him that I had been enjoying the sunlight outside and, at the same time, was thinking about something. Maharajshri asked, "What were you thinking?" I said, "I was thinking about my split personality. On one hand, my mind is filled with so much dirt and, on the other hand, I falsely wearing the garb of divinity and have to bless people. I perceive these dual roles as a drama. There is one thing inside and another outside. This is what I was afraid of, and this is exactly what is happening. That is what I was thinking"
Maharajshri said, "You have defects, however your goal of spirituality is also very clear. Hence you have taken sanyas. Now concentrate on getting rid of your defects. There is no human being who does not have defects. Is there any spiritual aspirant whose mind is pure? Everyone is roaming around carrying his bundle of defects. A spiritual aspirant is not frightened or dejected at the sight of them. On the contrary, he is full of enthusiasm to get rid of them. Give up remorse, do not waste your time in useless thoughts. Start working with enthusiasm for your welfare and that of the world.
"There are two types of disciples. The first type comprises those whom the teacher involves in sadhan [effortless spiritual practice] for their own welfare. The second type are those who, along with their own sadhan, are also given the responsibility of showing the path of spirituality to others. The task of such disciples is difficult, yet they try to fulfill both responsibilities with total faith and enthusiasm. A disciple who has lost enthusiasm because of his own defects is unable to maintain the continuity of his own sadhan, and is also unable to provide guidance to other people.
"It is not mandatory to answer every question. If you are not knowledgeable about a specific subject, there is no harm in acknowledging that you do not have any information regarding it. If you try to answer every question for the sake of your pride, even when you have no personal experience of it, then it will simply be a display of false pride."
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