Baba says, ‘follow Shrimat‘. You followed the devilish directions for half the cycle and it made you homeless and bankrupt. Now, follow the Godly directions.
Baba comes at the end of the cycle when we, His children, are lost and wandering, calling out to be rescued from Ravan’s jail. He comes and reminds me of who I am, Whom I belong to and of my inheritance. This is not the world I created, He says. Then, you were free, peace was the only religion, happiness and prosperity were all around. Where did you lose it?, He asks.
For half a cycle, Maya preyed on souls using lies. I thought of myself as a body as opposed to as a soul. I therefore got lost in the maze of bodily religions, roles, titles, status, name etc. Chasing after material pursuits made me tired but brought me not fulfillment. I thought the remedy was to chase harder and acquire even more.
I went to the temple and prayed with my hands folded in front of me, I prostrated before the idol and begged for forgiveness of any sins. I observed fasts, I performed rituals, I undertook dangerous pilgrimages all to try and please the deity or at the very least keep them from being angry with me.
‘Please help me with my project’, ‘please let me pass my exam’, ‘please forgive my sins’, ‘please give me strength’, ‘please give me happiness’, ‘please make them like me’, ‘please keep my family safe’ and on and on went the list. My hand was always stretched out begging, needing, wanting. I feared, I obeyed, I submitted, I recited, I agreed.
I attended the satsang (religious gathering) where they recited the Ramayana and I cried every time I heard the part of Sita’s suffering. It reminded me of mine….even God suffered, we said, so it is but natural that I would too. I listened to the Gita, even recited it daily and thought that I had done my part. I listened to the SatyaNarayan katha on those auspicious days- they told me that I have to listen to the whole story without getting up in between..else it is a bad omen. So I sat and listened intently. I sang God’s praise daily – how He is great and I am so little. Without Him, I am nothing….again, I did my part.
On the annual pilgrimage to the Ganges or any of the other holy rivers, I took the holy dip- not once but as many times as I was told. I walked barefoot to the temple, climbed up the mountain to present myself before God, to show my devotion. I donated heavily to the temples and priests. I made gurus and put on the ring, the pendant, the rosary.
Bhakti makes me hand over my power – the power of the soul- to others.
That other could be the deity, the priest, the guru, the river or the material pursuit. I believe very strongly that nothing is up to me. I don’t have control over my own destiny, over my own happiness. It all depends on what and how much I acquire, if the deity is pleased, if I listened to that story the right way, if I was obedient enough etc etc. Sometimes, we say, God gives both happiness and sorrow- it’s all up to Him, how He feels. Maybe He has forgotten about me. Sometimes, we blame our past karmic accounts.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to hand over power is through blaming- it is always something or someone else. This is a primary characteristic of a bhagat. If I can’t blame anyone else, I will blame myself or God.
When God does come and introduce Himself to me, I find that reality is much different. He is not at all like what the priest or the guru or my own mind told me. When I ask Him for mercy, He says- this is a study, there is no question of mercy or blessing here. Remember who you are, you don’t need mercy. You have the power to do anything you put your mind to. You have just forgotten and therefore lost your way, He says. I am here to show you the way but you have to walk it and reclaim your lost inheritance.
I listen, learn and make effort to transform. This is not about visiting the temple or listening to a story and thinking I have done my part…rest is ‘up to Him’. I don’t simply go back to my old ways and wait for mercy. Here I listen to His direction, I imbibe, I change. It is only when I take charge myself that I can gain my lost self-respect, my power that I had handed over. It is how I reclaim my lost inheritance. Bhakti tells me that I have to appease everyone else for my well-being. Knowledge teaches me that I am in charge.
Follow Shrimat, He says. The devilish sanskars took you down, it is now time to ascend, to reclaim. The Shrimat is God’s love, His protection and my way to progress. He is my Father, Teacher, my Guru, Friend, Beloved and my Companion. He doesn’t have mercy for me, He has love. He doesn’t need me to ‘please’ Him or ‘keep Him happy’, He wants me to be happy and fulfilled. That comes from realizing and being who I really am – a powerful soul, a child of God Himself.